Jackson County commissioners decided Wednesday to purchase the former Bethel Assembly of God church on West Main Street across from the Elections Center in Medford.

Jackson County commissioners decided Wednesday to purchase the former Bethel Assembly of God church on West Main Street across from the Elections Center in Medford.

The church, with a tall tower in the front, formerly had been on the market for $1.6 million, but the county negotiated a price of $661,950.

"The price was pretty good," said Harvey Bragg, assistant county administrator.

The two parcels, totalling about 2 acres, could be used for extra parking for the elections center. The church property is at 1108 W. Main St., and the parcel behind is at 25 Quince St.

Bragg said the money will come from the county's rainy-day fund, which is currently about $67 million.

The property will add to the county's holdings in the downtown area, allowing for expansion of facilities in the future.

However, no plans are on the table to build on the property, he said. The county will demolish the church and two adjacent houses, Bragg said.

Bragg said the idea of buying the property came up when the county was looking for additional parking for the Elections Center at 1101 W. Main St.

Initially, the county considered relocating the Sheriff's Department to the property, but Sheriff Mike Winters decided it wasn't a good location because motorists would have to fight downtown traffic to respond to emergencies.

Another possibility is relocating the District Attorney's Office or another building to house human service offices, though these ideas haven't been fully explored, Bragg said.

Other properties purchased by the county near the courthouse have been used for parking or for the county motor pool, which also is on Main Street.

The sale is expected to close on Nov. 3.

Pastor Tim Olson of Bethel Church at Vista Pointe said his church, formerly at the Main Street building, merged with another church four years ago.

As a result, the Main Street church was no longer needed. It went on the market about the time real estate prices began to plummet.

A few smaller congregations have leased the building over the past four years, but it isn't being used now.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.