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Local News

Church facing unexpected obstacles in purchase of former Oswego jr. high

Resurrection Church of the Fox Valley is trying to find the funds necessary to complete the purchase of the former Traughber Junior High School on Franklin Street near downtown Oswego.
Resurrection Church of the Fox Valley is trying to find the funds necessary to complete the purchase of the former Traughber Junior High School on Franklin Street near downtown Oswego.

Resurrection Church of the Fox Valley is continuing its efforts to raise the funds it needs to purchase the former Traughber Junior High School on Franklin Street near downtown Oswego from Oswego School District 308.

In a statement sent to the Ledger earlier this month, Pastor Ed Doepel called the process of purchasing the property “much more complicated than we originally anticipated.”

The OSD 308 Board of Education voted, 4-2, Feb. 25 to approve the sale of the property to the Aurora-based church for $2.85 million.

“Our vision from the beginning has been to be a community center that happens to have a church worshipping in it,” Doepel said. “All we have wanted to do is continue all the great community building activities that have been going on in this building for so long...We thought all we needed to do was to ask the Village of Oswego to continue the community center special use permit that the facility has been operating under for years and we would be good to go – but it’s not that simple.”

Since the district moved the junior high school out of the building after the 2007-08 school year, portions of the building have been used by the district, the nonprofit Oswego Senior Center and Oswego YMCA. The YMCA closed last year, but the senior center continues to operate in the building.

If the sale is completed, church leaders have expressed a desire to continue to allow the senior center to remain in the building, while the church would conduct services, hold community events and other programs.

Doepel confirmed that the church has invited the Fox Valley YMCA to partner with the church in providing services in the Oswego area.

However, the church has learned that the building will have to be brought up to village codes, depending upon how it would be used.

According to Doepel, architects and engineers retained by the church have found that sprinklers and additional parking spaces will need to be added to keep the senior center in operation, and to allow other areas in the building to be used for community events and church functions.

“We will need to wait and see how the village desires to approach this,” Doepel said.

Oswego’s Building and Zoning Manager Jay Hoover confirmed that the code requirements the building would fall under would depend on the uses.

Referring to church officials, Hoover said, “We discussed a lot of different possibilities with them, but the main takeaway is that they have to determine what uses and what areas the building is going to have and maintain and/or change and upgrade. It just depends on what they are going to have in there, and where they’re going to put those activities, some of which can be considered legal non-conforming; grandfathered, some could potentially be new and have requirements, some could be new and not have any changes depending on what area they go into.

Hoover added, “It just depends on how and what they keep with as far as what will be required there...it depends significantly on what they choose to do, and where they choose to do it within that building.”

Theresa Komitas, OSD 308 director of communications and public relations, said a closing date for the sale will be set at the end of the due diligence period which concluded May 25, with an automatic 30-day extension. If the sale falls through, the building will be placed back on the market.

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