Bishop Daniel Thomas has again invited local officials to a face-to-face meeting about the future of St. Anthony Church.
He extended the offer Friday to Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, Lucas County Land Bank President David Mann, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) to meet Tuesday and discuss the possibility of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo donating the historic church and its property to the land bank.
" Stop Work Order" signs issued by the city of Toledo are on the perimeter fence of St. Anthony Church, citing an issue with the demolition permit, on June 3, 2018.
On Thursday, land bank officials asked the diocese for more time to consider its proposal of allowing the nonprofit to acquire the property. Bishop Thomas had proposed gifting the church to the Land Bank and covering the cost to breaking its demolition contract — so long as Miss Kaptur paid to have the construction equipment removed from the site.
The diocese had demanded an answer by 5 p.m. Thursday, but Mr. Mann asked to have until June 21 so he could fully assess the property’s structural soundness.
"If you permit the land bank and its partners the time to conduct those inspections, the land bank will have a much better sense of the true cost to hold, maintain, and preserve this building for another generation's use,” he wrote.
The diocese did not address Mr. Mann’s request in a news release Friday, but reiterated its willingness to discuss halting the building’s planned demolition.
Community members have rallied behind preserving the historic church in Toledo’s Junction neighborhood since December, when the diocese announced its plans to tear down the 19th-century building.
The Catholic church has argued that the building posed safety concerns to the neighborhood’s residents while the coalition opposing the decision contended that debris and dust from the demolition was a graver threat to neighboring businesses and residents.
Bishop Thomas was reluctant to discuss the matter and has been largely unresponsive to letters from city stakeholders until recently, when they announced an intention to turn to Pope Francis for help.
Mr. Mann confirmed each party will attend Tuesday’s proposed meeting but declined to comment further on the matter.
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