- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City officials are recommending that the society apply for a demolition permit for its 107-year-old church.

The society voted last month to leave its long-time location because it no longer suits the society’s mission. Vicki Siefer, president of the society’s board of trustees, said a demolition permit will allow them to work around the possibility of a historic landmark designation, a move that leaders say will complicate a possible property sale.

“We’re having a lot of problems with the historic preservation issue,” she said. “If it were designated a historic landmark, it would significantly decrease the value of the property. This way we can control how the demolition is done, and preserve some of the parts of the old building.”

Trustee Adam Ingersoll said while many members are sympathetic to preserving the church, it is in the society’s best interests to relocate.

“I don’t know anybody in the entire church who is unsympathetic to the mission of historic preservation,” Ingersoll said. “There’s nobody here who is eager to see this beloved building come down, but I think ultimately when it comes down to our mission, our identity and those who we’re trying to serve, it’s not about a building. The building needs to be functional.”

Ingersoll says that if an application for landmark designation is submitted to the city, the society would file a formal objection. The objection would mean that six out seven council members would have to vote in favor of the designation.

Alicia Trimble, who is the executive director of Friends of Historic Preservation, said that her organization does not have plans to apply for a landmark designation of the church, but she believes that someone likely will.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/1aNGel7 ) reports that the society’s board of trustees will vote March 12 on the recommendation to apply for a demolition permit.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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