LDS church scraps plans for controversial MTC renovation

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The plans for the tower at the MTC have been withdrawn as a result of neighboring protests. The MTC is now looking at alternative options for housing. (Photo courtesy of LDS Church)

One time-consuming battle and “invitation of support” later, the plans for the nine-story Missionary Training Center building have been scrapped.

The MTC had been proceeding as planned on the renovation that was to consist of tearing down five existing buildings and replacing their facilities with one building as tall as and wider than BYU’s Spencer W. Kimball Tower until Friday.

The LDS church sent out a very short press release, stating that the building would not be built, but the MTC was still growing.

“There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the Church’s proposal to construct a new building at the Provo Missionary Training Center,” said Michael Purdy, a spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Church leaders have determined that, due to a number of complexities and concerns, we will not move forward with the nine-story building originally proposed. Expansion of the MTC is necessary, but we are confident we can find a solution that builds upon the long-standing working relationship between the MTC, BYU and the community at large.  We look forward to further discussions as the process moves forward.”

R. Paul Evans, BYU micro and molecular biology faculty and chair for the Pleasant View neighborhood, received a call from the administrative director at the MTC prior to the press release, notifying him of the changes.

The release was issued less than a week after the announcement that ages for missionaries are now 18 for men and 19 for women, a change that has led many to believe the number of missionaries will drastically increase.

“The plans were for a renovation, not expansion,” Evans said. “I think it would definitely increase difficulty housing the increasing number of missionaries since they would be tearing down a building to start the new one.”

This news presumably leaves many members of the neighborhood happy and relieved.

“As a neighborhood we express gratitude to the mayor and councils for their actions in the past months helping us with this issue,” Evans said. “Neighborhoods change, cities change, BYU grows, the MTC will grow. It’s not change that’s the concern. The concern is, do we involve all the people affected in that discussion of the plan for the future?”

During the September 4th town council meeting the issue was more of a preventative nature. Ordinances were reviewed in the hopes of coming to a final product that would protect the residents and their neighborhoods from plans for other unwanted structures.

For this reason, the announcement was a surprise to the community.

“If you look at the efforts of the city and the neighborhood,” Evans said, “everyone just wanted to talk, and this announcement gives them that chance.”

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