When it comes to West Dundee continuing its legal battle against a church that has rebuffed repeated requests to fix its historic -- but decaying -- parsonage, Daniel Wilbrandt, who is running for village trustee, said Wednesday that it's time to end that fight.
Wilbrandt made his comments during a candidate forum organized by the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area. He was responding to a question about whether the village should continue to spend tax money on legal action the board has taken against First United Methodist Church to force the church to repair its 164-year-old parsonage.
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"I would not like to see West Dundee spend any more money on this," Wilbrandt said. "We do like to preserve our buildings in West Dundee because it provides a certain character to West Dundee. I hope we can get to a resolution very quickly so West Dundee doesn't need to spend any more money, and the church and West Dundee can come to an agreement about what we can use the building for, or figure something out about its use."
The village has been trying for at least six years to get the church to repair its parsonage. The church would rather tear it down and build a parking lot, but West Dundee blocked those efforts because the parsonage lies in a historic district. Both parties are due to appear in court in April.
Pat Hanley, an incumbent trustee running for his fourth term in office, said the parsonage is a dangerous building because the church hasn't made the repairs and that "something needs to be done about it."
Andy Yuscka, a 14-year-trustee who is running for village president, said taking the church to court was a last resort, but something that needed to happen to preserve one of the most historic buildings in town.
"I would like to see it continue until it's taken care of," Yuscka said.
Chris Nelson, a political newcomer running for village president, said he agrees with the board's actions thus far. Darren Parochelli did not attend Wednesday's candidates forum but during a Daily Herald endorsement session, he agreed that West Dundee had no choice but to take the church to court.
"If they would have taken care of the situation earlier, you wouldn't be at this juncture," Parochelli told Hanley during the session.
Also not attending Wednesday's forum was William Pflanz, a challenger running for one of three trustee positions on the village board. Reached during a later interview, he said West Dundee was correct to take the church to court but if the court proceedings become too costly, it may be time to re-evaluate that decision.
"I think it's definitely an issue to keep an eye on," Pflanz said.
Wednesday's candidates forum, which also covered budgetary issues, village services, public safety and economic development, attracted more than 50 people.
The league's next forum is scheduled for Thursday and will feature the people running for office in Gilberts. For more information, call (847) 426-0326.