If you've got that many albums, and they've been collecting dust for that long, my advice is to get a vacuum machine. I wouldn't go crazy with one, as you may not want the hassle over the long haul. The KAB USA EV-1 is about $170. It's a Nitty Gritty without an internal vacuum; simply connect your own.
If you know what you're doing regarding setting up a table and aligning a cartridge, you could buy a second hand deck to minimize the risk. If you don't know what you're doing, buy new - preferably from a local dealer, but if you don't have one, from someone like Music Direct. They can instal the cartridge before shipping and talk you through setup.
I'm a huge fan of the Rega decks. I own a Pro-Ject 1Xpression, but would have bought a Rega deck had I had a local dealer at the time. No regrets with the Xpression, but a P3 would have been nice.
I don't know your sonic preferences, but if I had $2-$3k to spend on a new analog setup (assuming I had nothing), here's what I'd get (all prices are new) -
Rega RP3 - $895
Dynavector 10x5 - $450
Rega Fono MM (Will handle HO MC) - $299
KAB USA EV-1 - $170
That's a total of $1814. Leaves you plenty of room to buy a stylus cleaner, cleaning fluids, and some new inner sleeves so you're not sticking clean albums into dirty old sleeves.
Also, add a hand held steamer. They can be found for about $25. Takes cleaning up a few notches, and can be used for other stuff.
If you decide you're really digging the whole vinyl thing, you can always upgrade the Rega deck - TTPSU, subplatter, platter, and on and on. The Rega decks are also popular enough to not sit here for any length of time if you price it right, in the event that you decide you don't need the hassle of vinyl.
Just my two cents.