While city officials see relief in sight at the Delaware intersection known as "The Point," church leaders at Grace United Methodist Church see challenges ahead as they make plans to move to a new location.

While city officials see relief in sight at the Delaware intersection known as "The Point," church leaders at Grace United Methodist Church see challenges ahead as they make plans to move to a new location.

The city announced last week work will begin on Sept. 8 to ease congestion where William Street and Central Avenue meet to form "The Point" on the city's east side.

The project will realign eastbound state Route 37 to a new intersection about 300 feet west of the existing intersection, said city spokesman Lee Yoakum. Westbound traffic won't be affected by the change.

The current signal will be removed and a new signal will be installed at the new intersection that will line up with a driveway for the Ohio Department of Transportation headquarters and the city's new public works facility off William Street.

The church, built in 1873, is the last structure before "The Point" and the new intersection will bring traffic even closer, said its pastor, the Rev. David Carter.

While a move to a 5.6-acre site given to the church on Bowtown Road, north of Routes 36-37, has been in the church's master plan, the road work has accelerated those plans, he said

"For sale" signs now flank the church property on both Central Avenue and William Street. The church is listed at $800,000.

Selling the site might not be easy, Carter said. Whether or not it finds a buyer, the church will continue with plans for a new church on Bowtown Road, he said.

First, the church must deal with an economy that has left the real estate market reeling.

The church sits on 39,490 square feet, a lot just under one acre. Carter and church officials thought the church owned between 1.5 and 2 acres. They learned from the city, however, that changes to the deed have reduced the lot to less than an acre and some of the church's parking might be partially inside the Foley Street right of way, next to the church site.

Finally, the site is zoned residential, which limits its uses.

While a case could be made for some office uses on the property, wrote city planning director Dave Efland in an April 2 e-mail to church officials, "Having less than an acre is going to seriously curtail the possible uses from a market perspective that the property could be used for ..."

If the church is torn down, any new construction must conform to existing setback, parking and landscaping requirements, he said, which would leave only enough room for a small office. Leaving the church intact would "maximize your building square footage available."

The church offered to sell its property to the city, but the city has no use for it, Yoakum said. The city, working with representatives of the Delaware County Veterans' Association and county Veterans Service Commission, coordinated the removal and storage of memorial bricks, benches and a World War I monument near "The Point." Those items will be placed in a veterans plaza at the YMCA-National Guard Community Center planned on Houk Road, he said.

The only item that will remain at The Point is an antique German field artillery cannon, Yoakum said.

The changes near the church are one factor in the decision to move, Carter said. But the church also needs more space for its current programs and those church members want to add in the future.

The church places a continuing emphasis on children's programs, including a new program this fall for older elementary-aged children, he said.

The whole idea is to find ways to meet both the spiritual needs of the congregation and the community, as well as the practical needs.

The development of the new site will be multi-phased, Carter said, with a worship facility and classrooms coming first.

The move reflects the "pioneer spirit" of the congregation, he said.

"We started in a field and I believe God wants us to have the opportunity to start over in a field again," Carter said.

Traffic will be maintained during work on the new intersection, Yoakum said, and traffic control signs and devices will be in place to assist motorists through the work zone.

The state, city and county are all contributing to the $466,000 cost of the project.