Woodstock approves $9K historic district grant for St. Mary Church rectory – with no vinyl siding allowed

The Woodstock City Council has approved a $9,000 grant for renovations at the St. Mary Catholic Church rectory.

The city launched a Historic District Residential Assistance Program in 2023, which is designed to help residents and property owners in the historic district in and near downtown with exterior improvement costs.

According to city documents, the city allocated $15,000 for the program in this year’s budget. Woodstock’s fiscal year began May 1 and the budget now has $6,000 remaining with the request approved. The city typically caps reimbursement under the program at $5,000 and 50% of project costs.

St. Mary Church is planning to make changes and upgrades to the rectory that are expected to cost about $385,000. However, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission insisted the church not use vinyl siding for the building. Church officials said they’d like to use a different material but it might be too pricey, according to city documents.

St. Mary requested the $9,000 and city staff encouraged allocating the funds in part because, according to city documents, “the amount requested over the ‘typical maximum’ is specifically slated to cover the cost of forgoing vinyl siding, a material that is heavily discouraged in the historic district.”

Mayor Mike Turner said he appreciated the commission’s insistence on no vinyl and was “really glad” the church wasn’t going with vinyl.

City Councilmember Tom Nierman said he didn’t have a problem with the dollar amount.

“I just don’t want to set a precedent,” Nierman said.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the higher earmark wouldn’t set a precedent and the city council can use its discretion.

City Councilmember Bob Seegers said the rectory wasn’t a taxpaying residence, but added that the neighbors would benefit.

“My vote yes is for the surrounding residents,” Seegers said.

The church was one of several buildings near downtown Woodstock that suffered damage when a nearby house exploded last October. The rectory is across the street and farther down the block from where the explosion.

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