Post office is surplus; Galbreath Hall may be next

West Jefferson Village Council voted unanimously on Oct. 6 to list the post office building as surplus. This makes the property eligible for sale in the future.

The post office, which sits on Main Street between Madison Drive and North Hampton Street, is owned by the village and leased to the United States Postal Service. According to West Jefferson Finance Director Jack Herrel, anyone who purchases the building would have to abide by the lease agreement, which states that the Postal Service has options to continue renting the building until as late as 2020.

Before council passed the measure, Vice President Ron Garver wanted to be sure it was set up to allow the village to get a fair price for the property, should it be sold.

“We’re not going to take any less than fair market value,” said Mayor Scott Hockenbery.

The building recently was appraised at $205,000. The village collects $14,000 a year in rent from the Postal Service, but spends roughly $4,000 a year on taxes, insurance and maintenance on the building, Hockenbery said.

Another village-owned building—Galbreath Hall—may be deemed “surplus” in the future. The building is used by the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA) for equipment storage and some programs.

WJYAA members Kim and Herman Stanley attended the Oct. 6 council meeting to ask about rumors that the hall was up for sale. Steele and Hockenbery said the building is not for sale at this time. Should the village ever consider selling it, several meetings would take place first and WJYAA members would be involved in the discussions, they added.

“We want to make sure the Youth Association has someplace to go,” Steele said. “If we could get a new center and sell (Galbreath Hall), I would dance a jig.”

Hockenbery said the village and WJYAA have outgrown Galbreath Hall and that a long-term solution needs to be considered. The Stanleys agreed, but noted that while the association does not use the hall as much as it used to, it does run programs like basketball and dodgeball there a couple of times a week and relies on the space heavily for storage.

Park Land Along Little Darby
In a 4-3 vote, council passed an ordinance to lease property from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources near the Little Darby Scenic River for a park and to create a parking lot nearby on village property.

Council member Eugene Sidner expressed concern that residents in the area would not be ready for the increased traffic a park would bring. He also was worried about costs and law enforcement patrol of the area.

“Do we have the money to do (this)? We have streets that need to be done,” he said of spending priorities.

Garver said ODNR should pay the costs of improving the land.

“The idea (of a park), I’m not against,” said Garver. “What I’m against is the precedent of improving land we don’t own.” He also said Westwood Park deserves some attention.

Jack McDowell, West Jefferson’s Parks and Recreation director, said volunteer work would take care of most of the improvements along the creek, and that the park would be good for a growing village.

“One of these days you’re going to need some green space to get companies in. Now’s the time to do it,” McDowell said, regarding laws that require so much green space in a municipality for every acre of developed space.

Council members Doug Eakins, Sheila Nelson, Jim King and Randy Otis voted in favor of the ordinance. Garver, Sidner and Steele voted against it.

New Grocery Store
The mayor announced that a new gro-cery store will be going into the space previ-ously occupied by Kitchen’s Cardinal grocery. The store is set to open in January.

The owner previously ran a grocery in Chicago. His wife, who once lived in West Jefferson, still has family in the area. Hockenbery said the owner plans to hire as many West Jefferson residents as possible to staff the store and, down the road, may offer a grocery delivery service.

West Jefferson Finer Foods will be an all-purpose general grocery store, the mayor said.

School Levy
William Mullett, superintendent of Jefferson Local Schools, addressed council about the 0.5 percent income tax levy for operating expenses that the district has on the Nov. 4 election ballot.

Mullett said that while the levy will be listed as “new” in the ballot language, it is actually a renewal of an existing with one change. If passed, the levy would only tax earned income, which means income from social security, capital gains, pensions, investments and the like would no longer be taxed.

“These are rough times right now,” Mullett said. “We wanted to give the seniors (and people on fixed incomes) a break.”
A levy meeting is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at West Jefferson High School.

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