STUART, IA -- Members of Project Restore addressed the Stuart City Council Monday evening, seeking the city's assistance in helping to secure federal funds that might be available for restoration of the old All Saints Catholic Church building. There was also discussion about having the city create some type of historic district or zone, which would involve input from the Stuart Planning & Zoning Commission.
Project Restore spokesman Tom Smull Jr. told the council that Iowa receives $3 million to $4 million annually in ICED TEA funds which are used for bike trails, for enhancement of the state's highways and by-ways and to a lesser extent for historic restoration. Smull said Harry Budd, who was born in Stuart and who now works for the Department of Transportation, oversees the state's ICED TEA funds and would be willing to visit with the council.
The council agreed to invite Budd and members of the Planning and Zoning to the October council meeting to learn more about the possibility of using ICED TEA funds for historic restoration. City Attorney Bill Bump said creation of a special historic zone would require an amendment to the town's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. It was also suggested that additional information about historic zones or districts be obtained.
Council members expressed concern about interfering with the current plans for a new Catholic Church. Pat Hohn was asked to contact the bishop's office and Father Dan Clarke to find out their thoughts about the existing All Saints structure.
Smull told the council that Project Restore was not seeking a financial partnership with the city, but he said a "long-standing partner" that has been an entity for, say 20 years, is needed to help secure funding.
He said that while members of Project Restore would still like to see the old church restored as a church, they were being realistic about it. Smull mentioned a few possibilities for the structure, such as an auditorium or a religious education facility. He estimated the operating budget to maintain the facility would be around $50,000 per year, and he said it would have to be self- sustaining. Smull also told the council that Project Restore would like to see the structure winterized so that it would be easier and more affordable to restore.
Smull said he felt Stuart was poised for growth and new development. He suggested tourists might be attracted to a town with two Byzantine structures and that the Byzantine theme could be expanded by others in the community.
Smull invited the council and the public to an upcoming conference on historic religious buildings. He said 200 or more people are expected to attend the event, which will be held November 1 at the high school gym in Stuart, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Mayor Dave Fry said the city would like to know what the plan is for not only the existing Catholic Church but also the Christian Church where the parish is currently meeting, the Catholic school building and the rectory.
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