The City of Keokuk has ended its attempt to assume ownership of a vacant church.
The legal tussle began in early 2011 when the city filed a lawsuit against the owners of the former Unitarian Church. The city wanted to gain control of the property at the corner of 4th & High Streets in case the building needed to be demolished.
But the city has now filed the paperwork to have the case dismissed.
Mayor Tom Marion said the lawsuit was based on a portion of state code that dealt with abandoned buildings. He said after further review, the former church does not qualify, making it unlikely the city would be able to win in court.
"They have put it now where it has to be a residence (to be acquired) and we are quite frustrated because there are a lot of buildings in town that are in a dilapidated state that maybe, eventually, we would have to pursue. According to the way it falls now, we could not do that," the mayor said.
Marion said dismissing the lawsuit does not mean the city will ignore the church.
"We are (going to) keep their feet to the fire. They talked about putting a roof on (it) and now they have the ability to do it. I would love to see that happen and as we have talked here (in City Hall), if they get that roof on, we would hold back."
Marion said he is worried that the owners will sit back and let the church sit now that the lawsuit is dismissed.
Attorney Curtis Dial said that will not happen. He said his clients, the owners of the church, are very pleased that the case has been dismissed.
"My clients can now work on restoring the building," said Dial, "and hopefully get this accomplished in the near future."