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updated: 12/3/2013 10:48 AM

Arlington Heights approves St. Edna expansion plans

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St. Edna Catholic Church in Arlington Heights plans to build a new parish center on its campus for athletics, concerts and other large events.

The Arlington Heights village board approved plans for the expansion at its meeting Monday night. The 10,800-square-foot building will be build on St. Edna's current property at 2525 N. Arlington Heights Road in place of the former rectory, which was demolished this fall, said Susan Maish with architecture firm Jaeger, Nichola and Associates.

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The parish center will be used for all large-scale functions such as movie night, pancake breakfast, youth ministry and other events. Now those events are held in the church basement, which has movable walls that are set up differently for various events, said Pastor Jerry Jacob. Once the church gets more funding, a second phase of work would renovate the church basement to create permanent classrooms for ministry and other activities, he said.

The expansion is not an attempt to accommodate new church members, but just to reorganize and update the facility for different uses, Maish said

St. Edna's has seen a decline in parishioners over the past few decades with about 2,600 people attending weekend services compared to 3,100 in the past, Maish said. .

Trustee John Scaletta was concerned about making sure the campus has enough parking.

"I'm just trying to make sure you don't have a problem down the road," Scaletta said. "You may have declining parishioners right now, but when you keep adding more amenities you mind find those numbers start to increase."

Scaletta suggested that the church look into a formal agreement for additional parking with Arlington Heights Elementary District 25, which rents out a nearby building to the Chicago Futabakai Japanese School. The church and the school have informally agreed to share lots when necessary, Jacob said.

Church officials also assured the village that there would not be multiple programs -- such as a church service and an athletic tournament -- taking place at the same time to crowd up the parking lot.

Construction on the project is expected to start next spring.

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