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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 30, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Temple Changing Nauvoo
By(New temple is a monument to history, faith - and hope)
By Raad Cawthon: Inquirer Staff Writer

NAUVOO, ILLINOIS -- The Philadelphia Inquirer looked at the project to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple and the effect it will have on the town of Nauvoo, which with just 1,100 residents has less people than when the original Temple was built. The town itself is facing a lot of change because of the building, but also stands to reap a lot of benefits.

The historic significance of the temple is expected to at least double, to 500,000, the number of tourists visiting Nauvoo each year and more aggresive estimates suggest the number of visitors could reach 1 million. Steve Sanders, non-LDS president of the Nauvoo Chamber of Commerce, says, "It is going to turn this town inside out. It is going to change this town completely."

He has received dozens of contacts from people looking to develop real estate in the area. Plans include condominiums, retirement villages, hotels and restaurants. "The only way you can get here is to drive," he says. "Half a million people. How many cars is that? You do the math." The interest has led land prices to double since President Hinckley announced the reconstruction.

LDS Church officials agree. "We have doubled the value of the city," says Elder Loren Burton, PR Director for Nauvoo Restoration Inc., the LDS Church-owned company that operates the Church's historical sites in Nauvoo and which is rebuilding the temple.

Many in Nauvoo are similarly excited at the changes, "This is like their Jerusalem," says Nauvoo Tourism director Ginger Reese. "You can't help but get excited about that." Local bookstore owner, Estel Neff, 71, also agrees, "When the temple is finished, there are going to be more foreigners here than on the streets of Chicago."

But other Nauvoo residents express a sense of helplessness at the changes. Mayor Tom Wilson, thinks Nauvoo may see growth of 10 percent a year for the next 10 years, but, "we can't control anything," he says. The city council recently adopted its first zoning and land-use ordinance in an attempt "to keep things residential residential and things business business."

But some town officials see some resentment. Chamber of commerce president Sanders says, "It's a very conservative town. Some people are not happy with what is happening. I have heard the word cult. But as a businessman, it's the best thing that ever happened to me." And Mayor Wilson observes that while for him the Mormons are "all right as long as they leave me alone and don't start preaching to me," not everyone likes the Mormons.

"Every now and then I get someone in here who just doesn't like Mormons and that's all there is to it," he says. "They just don't like Mormons because their father told them they shouldn't like Mormons."

But Elder Burton says he hasn't seen it, "I have been here two years, and we have been welcomed with open arms," he says. "It's history now. Those [anti-Mormon] feelings have mended. The temple is a monument to the sacrifice that happened here. But bridges of understanding have been built. A lot of the early persecution was about people not understanding."

But Mayor Wilson, reflecting a sentiment that is less optimistic, says of the temple, "It's going to be tall. And it's going to be lighted."


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