Summarized by Gregor McHardy
Tension on the Rise Again in Nauvoo
Salt Lake Tribune 23Jan00 N1
By Dan Egan: Salt Lake Tribune
NAUVOO, ILLINOIS -- Who really owns Nauvoo? Since President Hinckley's
announcement last spring of a temple being built in the footprint of the
Saints' lost temple there, controversy has been brewing in the coffee
houses of main street as the locals discuss the impact of the temple.
The article takes an in-depth look at relations between the current
capitol of the Church and the residents of its historic headquarters. A
BYU student in town for a semester said "I have lots of ancestors who
lived here. The spirit is really strong here. It is a happy spirit. Very
happy and friendly." But across the street a local man says "I wish they
never dreamed this temple crap up. [Nauvoo] is going to be nothing but a
tourist trap. It just gets worse, worse and worse. Soon it will be
nothing but Mormons. I hate to put it that way, but it's true."
Although there are those living in Nauvoo with chips on their shoulders
about their Mormon neighbors (A former city council member points to a
plaque in town that tells the story of how the Mormons escaped Nauvoo to
avoid persecution. "They spelled that wrong," he says. "It's
prosecution."), the main beef is the perceived insensitivity of the
Mormons. For Mormons, Nauvoo is not a bustling little town. It is a
sacred place frozen in time. That's not true for Nauvoo natives. This is
where their grandparents went to grade school, courted one another, made
a living and raised families. "They were here for seven years. I have
been here 48 years. People out there (in Utah) are not even aware that
people live here, thrive here, raise their families here."
In response the Church has donated $380,000 to help with infra structural
improvements to help alleviate the anticipated quadrupling of tourist
traffic, offered a two-year missionary -- city planner to help the town
make decisions about growth, and set up massive public relations
efforts. But even then critics scoffed and noted $380,000 won't go far.
"If you've got to put a road in, $300,000 doesn't amount to nothing."
Locals just don't want to see their little piece of small-town America
be demolished by the same muscle that brought down the Deseret Gym and
planted flowers in the middle of Main Street in Salt Lake City. "(It's)
not so much hard feelings as it is being halfway scared as far as what
is happening to our town," says former Mayor Dale Bruegger. "It's our
town, as far as we're concerned. And as far as the Mormons are
concerned, it's their town."