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updated: 12/5/2012 8:28 AM

West Dundee trying to settle church parsonage dispute

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  • The parsonage at First United Methodist Church in West Dundee is the subject of debate. Preservationists want the historic building preserved. Others want it razed since there's already a newer parsonage on site and the older one hasn't been used for several years.

       The parsonage at First United Methodist Church in West Dundee is the subject of debate. Preservationists want the historic building preserved. Others want it razed since there's already a newer parsonage on site and the older one hasn't been used for several years.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

 
 

After years of a stalemate between West Dundee and First United Methodist Church that involves the church's historic, but decaying parsonage, the ice appears to be melting between the parties.

West Dundee is ready to withdraw an emergency motion against the church that involves its parsonage, if church leaders promise to fix the roof.

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"We're giving them a couple of days to confer with their client and respond back to us," Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said Tuesday.

In the original motion, the village wanted the church to repair or replace the historic parsonage's roof, masonry, wood siding and parts of the roof that are water damaged. The goal is to keep water out of the building while the village's larger case -- alleging 14 code violations -- against the church goes through the courts.

Last week, the church had a roofer do some temporary work, but the roofer wasn't sure that would be enough to help the situation.

The village found a roofer who agreed to fix the major roofing issues for $5,000, Cavallaro said. Thomas Sullivan, attorney for the church, is expected to get back to the village by the end of this week on whether the church will complete temporary fixes with its roofer or hire the village's recommended roofer.

If both parties reach a compromise, West Dundee would withdraw its emergency order against the church but continue to proceed with its larger court case against the church.

The parsonage, at 310 Main St., dates back to 1849 and is one of the oldest homes in the village. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historic significance. The parsonage was built by Alfred Edwards, who sold it in 1850 and bought it 20 years later for his daughter, Ella, and her husband. The church bought the house in 1954 and used it as a parsonage until 2004.

While the village wants to keep the parsonage around and preserve its history, church leaders would rather raze the parsonage and turn the property it sits on into a parking lot.

But because the parsonage is in a historic district, the village board has final say over what happens to it. And the board has already thwarted the church's attempt to demolish it.

Village leaders have openly accused the church of deliberately dragging its feet and letting the parsonage continue to deteriorate until there's no choice but to demolish it.

If the church doesn't agree to the proposal, both parties will head back to court next week, Cavallaro and Sullivan said.

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