- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - The city of Waterloo is seizing a 125-year-old former church after the structure’s owner said the dilapidated building was beyond repair.

The Rev. Helen Seenster runs Koinonia Ministries Full Gospel Baptist Church, which owns the run-down Second Street building. Seenster said she wanted to convert what was once the Apostolic Pentecostal Church into a community center, but it has fallen into disrepair and is a frequent target for vandals and thieves.

“It’s probably too far gone now,” she said.

City officials took court action in September to claim the structure under the Iowa Code, which allows municipalities to claim blighted properties and tear them down. Waterloo officials sought to seize the property during a court hearing Thursday, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (https://bit.ly/2hFhobe ) reported.

While looking at photos of the building’s collapsing walls, Judge George Stigler said: “It looks like if you leaned on it hard enough, they will fall out of place.”

Seenster will be allowed to remove fixtures, wooden trim, pews and the surviving stained glass windows from the building. While she didn’t object to the demolition, she was disappointed with the church’s dilapidation.

“It just saddens me that people don’t value what is valuable,” Seenster said.

City Attorney David Zellhoefer said demolition will cost between $20,000 and $30,000, which the city will need about six months to gather.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com

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