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Sycamore OKs Catholic school expansion, Baptist sanctuary lease

SYCAMORE – St. Mary’s Catholic School and the DeKalb Fellowship Baptist Church are set to expand after receiving approval Monday for their plans from the Sycamore City Council.

After years of planning and failed proposals, St. Mary’s Sycamore campus will expand classroom space by 13,100 square feet with the addition of a two-story brick building that will connect with existing facilities on Waterman Street.

The proposed design shows the new building will expand east off the existing school and feature two 6,550 square-foot floors. The first floor will include new preschool, kindergarten and first-grade classrooms along with administrative offices and restrooms. The second floor will not be dedicated to a specific use in initial phases, but will be available for future expansion of classes.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said the city’s private schools, such as St. Mary’s and Cornerstone Christian Academy, are great additions to a strong public school system so any expansion is a great sign.

“We are well rounded here in our educational opportunities for children,” he said. “We are blessed for that.”

The expansion comes after two failed attempts to add to facilities in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, St. Mary’s proposed a 20,000-plus square-foot expansion that included a basement. While the plan gained council approval, the city rejected it after tests showed underlying soils were too wet for a basement.

A revised plan in 2009 eliminated the basement and added a third floor instead. The design exceeded height limits in city code by a few feet and St. Mary’s did not have sufficient funding to start the project.

Ross Bubolz, principal of St. Mary’s, said it is great after years of planning to see the project move forward. He estimated construction could start as early as June.

“This is going to be a benefit to the entire parish,” Bubolz said. “There is a feeling of satisfaction.”

The DeKalb Fellowship Baptist Church, at 129 E. Locust St. in DeKalb, also received approval from the council to lease space at 2425 Bethany Road to use as its new sanctuary. The church, which started in November 2008, has slowly grown and moved from holding services at Haish Gym to a permanent home on Locust Street and now a larger space that can hold 90 people. The church has 55 members.

Because the property will be leased, it will remain on the city tax roll and not receive the typical tax break granted to churches that own property.

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