By Rick Palsgrove
The Greater Groveport Food Pantry needs a new home and its representatives think they have found one in Groveport’s former police station.
Pantry officials submitted a proposal to Groveport City Council asking council to allow the pantry to move into the city’s former police station, a 76-year-old, 1,024 square foot, one story, brick structure, located on .059 acres on the southwest corner of Cherry and Oak streets. The city currently uses the building for storage.
“We are asking the city to grant us use of this building rent and utility free so that we can house the food pantry there,” said Groveport Food Pantry Director Becky Soles. “We hope the city recognizes this is an opportunity to provide much needed assistance to local persons in need.”
On June 22, council approved an ordinance authorizing Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall to enter into a lease agreement with the Greater Groveport Food Pantry for the building. Another ordinance outlining the details of the agreement between the city and the pantry for the use of the building will be brought before council for consideration in the future. Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon also noted a use variance for the building will also have to be considered by council.
Council had considered three options for the building: demolish it and pave the lot for public parking; repair the building 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.
According to a report 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.
Food pantry’s plans
Hall told council pantry officials are proposing to renovate and maintain the interior of the structure themselves with the city being responsible for exterior maintenance and groundskeeping.
“We intend to use our own labor to perform the interior work,” said Soles.
Hall said pantry officials also obtained two contractors’ estimates for the interior renovations. One estimate is for $5,000 to $6,000 and the other is for $10,000.
When asked how the estimates the pantry officials received for the work are less than the city’s estimates, Hall said some contractors indicated to pantry officials they would donate their time to do the renovations. Also, according to Hall, as a non-profit, the pantry has fewer construction requirements than the city government would have to meet, which makes the project less costly.
Finance Director Jeff Green said estimated utility payments the city would have to pay on the building if the pantry moved in would be, “Nominal, maybe $150 to $200 a month, more or less.”
Soles said, “We will continue to pursue donations and grant funding to help us with the renovation.”
Soles said the pantry is going to hold fundraisers to raise money, including a golf outing at The Links at Groveport golf course on Aug. 21.
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 was also the home of the Groveport Heritage Museum from 1995-97 before the museum moved to Groveport Town Hall.
About the Greater Groveport Food Pantry
•The pantry is currently located in the basement of the Madison Township Community Center, 4575 Madison Lane, Groveport. It has been in this location free of charge since 1997. Pantry officials want to move from this location because its steep stairwell is difficult for volunteers and clients, there are no bathroom or water facilities, and the pantry needs more space.
•The pantry serves clients who live within the boundaries of the Groveport Madison School District. Approximately one third of the clients live in the city of Groveport with the rest residing in Madison Township.
•The pantry has experienced a 50 percent increase in food requests from clients since 2007.
•The pantry is a non-profit organization operated by a volunteer board of directors comprised of representatives from 10 area churches. It receives no outside funding, has no guaranteed monthly income and operates on donations.
•The pantry’s operations are limited with a volunteer there less than two hours per day making deliveries and stocking shelves. Clients visit the pantry by appointment during a four hour window on Thursdays.
(Information provided by Becky Soles, director of the Greater Groveport Food Pantry.)