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Update - Temporary Injunction Granted over Keokuk Church Demolition; No Hearing Set

Jason Parrott
The company hired to demolish the church has sealed the property to prevent entrance. The owner has filed an injunction request to prevent the demolition.

District Court Judge John Wright has granted a temporary injunction against the city of Keokuk, prohibiting it from demolishing the former Unitarian Church at the corner of 4th and High Streets. No further hearings have been scheduled at this time regarding the temporary injunction.

Christvision is the registered owner of the building. In its application for the temporary injunction, filed November 7, the organization said that if the demolition is allowed to proceed, it “will have no adequate remedy to restore the property to its current condition.”

“The building can never be replaced if any demolition begins,” said the organization, adding that the building has historic value and architectural significance.

The city told Tri States Public Radio Tuesday afternoon that it was unaware of the temporary injunction being granted, or even applied for. It's also unclear how it would affect the contract to demolish the building.

The city hired Keokuk Contractors to demolish the building for about $175,000. The city included about $500,000 in its current budget's demolition fund in anticipation of the project.

It does not appear the demolition has begun. There is an orange snow fence surrounding the property and several boards and a padlock have been added to the red front doors to prevent people from entering the dilapidated building.

The injunction requests were filed five days after Christopher Dailey and Melanie Wells addressed the city council during its November 2 meeting. Dailey is the registered agent for Christvision according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

Dailey said he was willing to give the building to a local restoration effort that Wells was part of if the city would halt demolition. Wells attempted to raise money years ago to save the church, but was unsuccessful.

The city council declined the offer, stating the building continues to deteriorate each day. Aldermen have previously expressed concerns the building would not last the winter given the holes in the roof and the walls pulling away from the foundation.

City leaders have said they have the authority to tear down the building after District Associate Judge Gary Noneman deemed it “dangerous” in Dec. 2016.

Noneman said at the time that if the city and the owner, Christvision, did not come up with a plan to address the building, then the city could proceed as it saw fit.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.