The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022

City Council receives Home Guard update

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council received an update on the Home Guard Temple building from Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Stacy Adam during its otherwise brief meeting Monday evening.

Local Economic Development Director Stacy Adam provides an update on the Home Guard Temple building situation during Monday’s Van Wert City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Adam first noted that there has been a lot of comment, some of it negative, on social media about the building, and she wanted to clear up some misconceptions people have. While some people have blamed the Van Wert County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank) and the Van Wert County Foundation for the current structural issues with the building, Adam noted that the building has been privately owned, vacant, and neglected for the past 25 years. The Land Bank just took ownership of the building in December 2019. In addition, there was known contamination on the site as well.

The economic development official told Council that it will cost $402,000 to demolish the building, adding that local officials have been looking at “every conceivable option” for funding that would cover the cost of demolition, which includes dealing with contamination and any hazardous materials found on the site.

Officials also contacted U.S. Representative Bob Latta’s office, as well as those of State Senator Rob McColley and State Representative Craig Riedel about the possibility of grants to help defray the cost to demolish the building, a portion of which collapsed September 13 onto North Market Street.

Three days after the building collapse, Van Wert Fire Chief Jon Jones issued an order to stabilize or demolish the building within 60 days, giving the need to find funding an extra impetus.

Realizing that a Brownfield grant that had been applied for through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was a longshot and wouldn’t be available until sometime next year, local officials identified a Target of Opportunity grant from the Ohio Development Services agency that would cover half of the demolition cost ($200,000) and the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution allowing development officials to apply for the grant through the county. A pre-application was submitted within 24 hours of that being done, with a formal application submitted 48 hours later.

Documentation was also submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office asking for their approval of reducing the waiting time for demolition from 60 to 7 days, while the EPA, which has a mandatory 14-day waiting period for demolition, agreed to reduce the wait period to one day.

The Target of Opportunity grant is also being expedited, Adam said, and was presented for agency review on Monday morning. A response is anticipated by the end of this week, she noted.

However, there is still a publishing requirement to bid the demolition project, Adam said, noting that a request for bids must be published, with a mandatory waiting period of one week, then republished, with another week of waiting, before a bid can be accepted. That means it will likely be somewhere near the end of October before the building can come down.

In the meantime, a construction fence has been placed around the building to keep people from getting too close and the 100 block of North Market Street will remain closed until the building has been demolished and the site cleared. Neighboring businesses were also contacted and have vacated buildings adjacent to the Home Guard building.

In addition to the Target of Opportunity grant, the Van Wert County Revolving Loan Fund will provide $100,000 in the form of Community Development Block Grant money, while the County Foundation will provide the remaining $102,000 needed for demolition.

Adam did note that, in the event the Target of Opportunity grant does not come through within the 60-day deadline for demolition, local officials would likely use the RLF loan and Foundation money to demolish the building quickly, and then have the site cleared when that grant or other funding is made available.

“I would remind folks that the Foundation or the Land Bank did not cause the deterioration, but appreciate the efforts of many and the financial commitment of the Foundation to finding a solution,” Adam said.

She also thanked Council, the county commissioners, the fire chief, Van Wert Street Department, Revolving Loan Fund Board, and Foundation Board for working together on the project.

During his report, Mayor Ken Markward noted that information on the city’s charter government issue coming up on the November 3 ballot was included with city utility bills this month, which went out a little earlier than usual. The mayor stressed that the flyer does not try to influence people’s votes on the issue, but does provide factual information on the issue.

In addition to the flyer, Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Davis said a Facebook page, “Van Wert Charter Information”, has also been created to provide information on the issue. 

Trick or Treat is scheduled for October 31, from 4-6 p.m., the mayor added, and those residents who want to participate should leave their porch lights on.

During a brief report, Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming noted that the HVAC project is continuing at the Municipal Building, and added that the Washington Street paving project should be completed by the end of this week.

Legislation creating a no-parking zone near the intersection of Market and Sycamore streets was also read for the second time.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 12, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 09/29/20 at 7:52 am. FILED UNDER: News