Church leaders fighting with Stevens Point officials over histor - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Church leaders fighting with Stevens Point officials over historic building

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -

Leaders of the Saint Stephens Parish in Stevens Point are fighting with the city about whether a historic convent should be bulldozed down.

The convent is part of a campus of old Catholic buildings. It hasn't been used as a home for nuns for years.

According to parish leaders, their convent is falling apart where it stands, and the church can no longer afford the repairs of its of the building.

City officials say fixing the roof could cost more than $40,000.

"After exhaustive efforts on the parish's part, they can't seem to find the money to renovate it, or practical use for it," said Mike Wiza, city council member.

But the convent sits inside a historical district. That historical district is why the city won't grant church leaders the permit needed to demolish it.

"If the city is going to be unwilling to entertain demolition of the structure, the city needs to be willing to work collectively to find some solutions," said Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson.

But that's easier said than done.

The subject came at recent city council meeting. Wiza says the council is divided on what to do.

"During the discussions at our last council meetings it seems that it's split," said Wiza. He later added, "I would like to explore all of the other possibilities that exist before leveling the building."

Halverson agrees.

"If we remove this convent, we're really removing not only a part of our religious history in the city, but we're really removing a part of our overall history," Halverson said.

Halverson tells Newsline 9 that he might have a solution – turn the convent over to the Portage County Historical Society.

"The Historical Society is the answer, with some financial assistance by the city," said Halverson.

It's unclear what the Historical Society would do with the building.

Officials with Saint Stephens Parish declined to comment on the future of the convent, but promised to issue a statement Monday to Newsline 9. That statement still had not been received by late Monday afternoon.

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