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County to turn historic church into parking lot; Also has options to buy houses

Though the idea of a courthouse parking ramp is "still an option," according to Becker County Administrator Brian Berg, the county board approved a purchase agreement Tuesday that makes it an unlikely one.

While the purchase won't become final until certain conditions are met, the board approved an agreement Tuesday to purchase the property currently occupied by the Berean Baptist Church and one adjacent home to the south, for a price of $553,717 with $20,000 earnest money.

In addition, the county has purchased an option on two additional homes south of the church property from Berean Baptist Church, at a cost of $2,000. Both the $2,000 option and the $20,000 earnest money were to be paid by the end of the month, according to board action.

Eventual plans call for a 125-foot by 312-foot parking lot on the property, which is located on the corner of Lake Avenue and Frazee Street, directly across from the Detroit Lakes Public Library and approximately a half block from the courthouse entrance.

However, the sale is contingent upon a couple of things falling into place first, Berg noted: First, the city must agree to allow a parking lot to be placed on the property (and approve all necessary permits), and second, the county will only take possession after the church itself has been demolished.

Rev. Timothy Riley, pastor of Berean Baptist Church, declined an interview about the church's future plans, and said that other members of the congregation he had spoken with were not willing to make comment at this time.

On May 27, 1870, Hans Hanson and Iver Christenson and their families first broke ground in Detroit Township at a place called Fox Hill, located near the original Methodist Church -- now the Berean Baptist Church. The church was built in 1908, according to a local church history book.

The Berean Baptist Church was established in September 1968, and Riley has been its pastor since 1993.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454