By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport City Council will decide the fate of the city’s former police station at its Feb. 23 meeting.
Council has three options for what to do with the 76-year-old, 1,024 square foot, one story, brick structure, located on .059 acres on the southwest corner of Cherry and Oak streets: demolish it and pave the lot for public parking; repair it and bring it up to code for public use, such as for the area food pantry; or fix it up for use as storage for city records and supplies.
Neighboring resident Bill Kurey opposes putting a parking lot on the site.
“I don’t want to look at a parking lot everyday,” Kurey told council on Feb. 17. “I want you to scrap the idea of a parking lot there.”
Kurey favors fixing the building for storage or public use. If the building must be demolished, he prefers the site be left as green space.
According to a report dated Jan. 20 by Groveport Director of Facilities Management Tom Byrne: it would cost the city $21,800 to demolish the building and put in a public parking lot; to repair the building to meet code for public use would cost $60,000 to $90,000; and to fix the building for municipal storage would cost $6,947.
Byrne said, according to a 2011 assessment by “architecture! of Ohio,” the building was valued at $51,500. He said since then the value has decreased to $45,800.
Byrne’s report notes the following needs repaired or replaced in the building: restroom, ceiling grid, exterior doors, heating and air conditioning, and electrical and lighting systems. Also, an access ramp is needed to comply with the American Disabilities Act. He said costs for waste removal and other potential hidden costs must be considered when deciding what to do with the building.
“I don’t want the building. It’s not worth rehabbing it a cost of double what is worth,” said Councilman Ed Dildine. “Plus, if we keep it, we’ll have ongoing maintenance and utility expenses, which are costs we don’t need. We don’t need the building, why would we keep it?”
Dildine added, “A parking lot there doesn’t mean much to me. I could live with the site as green space.”
Councilman Shawn Cleary favors keeping the building and using it for city storage.
“You can never have too much storage space,” said Cleary.
Councilman Ed Rarey would like to see the building used for the food pantry or used in conjunction with programs at KidSpace, which is located next door.
The idea of tearing down the building and using the site as green space is fine with Councilwoman Becky Hutson.
“KidSpace could use the green space for programming,” said Hutson.
“Like for a small arboretum,” said Councilwoman Donna Drury.
Hutson thinks the cost of refurbishing the building is “extreme.”
“It would not be a good use of taxpayers’ money,” said Hutson.
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert noted the food pantry serves the entire Groveport Madison school district. She said usually the city concentrates its revenues on serving city residents.
“Putting the food pantry there would mean using city tax dollars to fund something that serves the whole school district,” said Hilbert.
She said any project to help the food pantry should be funded by the school district and township community as a whole.
The building’s history
The building was originally owned by Ohio Bell and used as a telephone switching station from 1939 to 1972. According to Groveport Police historian Ernie Bell, the city of Groveport took possession of the building in 1972 and it served as the Groveport police station from 1973 until around 1992 when the police moved to another building on Homer Ohio Lane. In 1995, the police moved to the municipal building on Blacklick Street and this year moved into their own building on Clyde Moore Drive.
The building at Cherry and Oak streets also was the home of the Groveport Heritage Museum from 1995-97 before the museum moved to Groveport Town Hall. The city now uses the building for storage.