Green planning new approach for East Liberty Schoolhouse property

Finding the right owner for the East Liberty Schoolhouse has been an ongoing process that hasn’t panned out yet.

After two separate proposals fell through, the city has decided to explore another avenue to sell the one-room schoolhouse, which dates back to 1890. In 2015, more than $250,000 was spent to moved the German-style schoolhouse just north of its original location at Arlington and East Turkeyfoot Lake Road to make way for a Circle K.

This schoolhouse is one of two of this style that still exists in Ohio.

Green Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said the city began taking sealed bids last December and received several offers. Those interested had to submit a minimum $100,000 bid along with a statement of what the building would be used for.

One of the offers received was for a school supply store, but those interested believedthey would need to put an addition on the building and the deal didn’t work out. The second offer was for a family owned pizza shop. Wiethe said he thought that deal was going to go through, but it also didn’t materialize.

“We want to make sure whoever is in there is successful,” Wiethe said.

With both proposals falling through, Wiethe said the city could take sealed bids again, auction the property or turn the schoolhouse over to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to try and find someone to occupy the space. This would eliminate the bidding process and allow the CIC to take proposals.

CIC could allow for a realtor to be used, or for a rent-to-own process to take place. Wiethe said the CIC would have a more flexibility in selling the property compared to the city.

The CIC also owns six acres of land at the end of Tabs Drive, and the FedEx site on Boettler Road was a CIC site at one time.

“We want to make sure we get this right,” Wiethe said.

Wiethe said he gets calls all the time about the schoolhouse and has a list of several people who may be interested once the city decides which direction it wants to go.

“I think we will get interest again,” Wiethe said. “Interest and being successful are two different things.”

Hartong Farmstead

The city is also taking another look at plans for the Hartong Farmstead located in Southgate Park. Originally, the city searched for a farmer for the property, but an offer fell through because of restrictions on the land. Green purchased the 205-acre Southgate Park in 2006 and received a $1.2 million land grant from Ohio Public Works Commission. The stipulations of the grant funding restricted what could be done with the land in the park to help ensure it was properly preserved.

Another proposal for a program called Heroes at Hartong Farm was proposed, but that deal also fell through as the city had concerns about the exclusive use of the property.

Wiethe said the program that was proposed was “a great program” and the group has other locations in the area. The city hopes to make some improvements to the farmhouse so it can be used by multiple entities.

Wiethe said the details of renting fees and what kind of programs could be offered is still being worked out.

“We want to make sure the community can use it,” Wiethe said.

Wiethe said the goal is not to compete with other spaces the city rents out, but said the farmhouse could be used for small gatherings or meetings. The city wants to make sure the house is ADA compatible and hopes to have it ready by late summer.

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This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com

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