The Old English Lutheran Church, which is the focus of a 2-year-old legal battle over its demolition, has gained the attention of Kansas Atty. Gen. Robert Stephan.
Mary Horsch, press aide to Stephan, said today that the attorney general will take part in a tour of the 120-year-old Lawrence church, tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.
The attorney general's office has represented the Kansas State Historical Society in attempts to delay demolition of the church until preservationists have a chance to prove whether the building can feasibly be saved.
"Our office has been involved in the case, and (Stephen) is curious to see what the church looks like and whether it can be restored," Horsch said.
JOINING Stephan on the tour will be the Lawrence City Commission and representatives of the state historical society, Lawrence Preservation Alliance and Allen Realty Inc. The tour is part of a plan proposed by Todd Thompson, attorney for Allen Realty, which owns the church.
Thompson said his plan is aimed at an out-of-court resolution to the matter, which currently is in the lap of the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Under the proposal, Allen Realty would arrange the tour and also allow the state and the LPA to inspect the church, which is located at 1040 N.H. After those inspections, Allen Realty would ask that the city commission schedule a rehearing on a demolition permit request.
Before the hearing, the state, LPA and Allen Realty all would share inspection reports and testimony that would be presented at the demolition permit hearing.
THE KEY TO the proposal is that Allen Realty does not want to lose its right to continue its appeal of a court ruling ordering the inspection.
The state and city, who have been involved in the legal battle over the church's demolition, already have agreed to the plan. The attorney for the LPA, which also has been involved in the legal maneuvering, says he is recommending that the local preservationist group accept the plan.
"I think this is an excellent step in the right direction," Ron Schneider, attorney for the LPA, said of the plan. "It's what we've asked for all along."
Thompson said this morning that the LPA has not yet officially accepted the proposal.
"All we need is the agreement of the LPA and it's a definite go," he said. "They've indicated there's no problems, but they still have to talk to a couple more board members about it."