The Manchester Village Council met for a special session on Aug. 18, in the Mayor’s Office at the Manchester Community Building. The topic of discussion was the proposed sale of the old school property.
At first, it seemed the meeting needed to be rescheduled due to the lack of a quorum. Council member Tyler Peterson recused himself, as he has a conflict of interest, being related to one of the bidders. Other board members were working or sick, leaving only three board members present. Council member Robert Hilderbrand arrived, even though he was sick, so the meeting could continue.
The first bidder invited to speak was William Broerman, followed by the second bidder, Tim Peterson.
In the Sunday, Aug, 17 edition of The People’s Defender it was incorrectly reported in the article, “Roush donates car to auction”, that Broerman had bid $33,500 for the property. Broerman had bid $3,500, which is under the $20,000 minimum required by the original motion to accept bids for the property.
Broerman is the current owner of the former Adams County Hospital property in West Union. When asked to speak, he explained his low bid.
“The State requires an occupancy permit for the property,” Broerman said, “They will require it no matter what happens, because it is a change of use. The State will walk in and put padlocks on everything, if someone tries to slide behind it. It involves a civil engineer drawing the section of occupancy. When I bought the Adams County Hospital property it cost $9,300 total. A lot of people don’t realize that this is something you have to pay right up front. Then there are the EPA inspections you have to pay for. You know what my offer was. I know what the costs will be, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The vandalism out there is at least $200 thousand, minimum.”
Broerman said he would board up the windows and put an alarm system in the building to deter any future vandalism, before moving on with the possible ideas.
When asked what he plans to do with the property, Broerman said, “I will not do any HUD housing. I will not do any Section 8 housing. I will not do any underwritten living. I will look at assisted living, though.”
Another idea that Broerman said he was exploring was to use the classroom space to hold classes that locals cannot get at Southern State Community College and other local colleges.
“It’s a good three year project, minimum,” Broerman said, when asked what his timeline was. “I will start immediately by securing the property and cleaning up the property.”
Turning to funding, Broerman said he had been speaking to his attorney, and there are lot of grants available. They just have to apply for them.
“It’s almost unbelievable the amount of money that is sitting out there that can be used through the jobs creation thing through the State of Ohio. They make you jump through hoops and fill out stacks of paper, but that’s why you hire [a lawyer].”
The second bidder, Tom Peterson, was then invited to speak to the members of the council. Peterson had bid $25,000 on his submitted proposal.
“My idea for the school is to try to keep it open enough, that if a business wanted to locate up here, they could,” Peterson said.
Peterson’s original proposal had included statements regarding using the building for aquaculture. He has recently been looking into the business of aquaculture, which is raising fish, oysters, etc. for use as food.
“I had looked into aquaculture before, but, because of the nature of the structure of the building, with its impervious floors and walls, that it would be a good structure to do aquaculture in compared to a wooden floor structure,” Peterson explained.
Another idea that Peterson suggested was using the building to hold classes for training in caring for the elderly. He predicts that retirees will start to move to Manchester to escape the bustle of the city and come for the river. Training the local population in these areas will help with that transition.
Discussion of the gym had Peterson mention the lack of large buildings in Adams County for community use. He brought up the idea of converting part of the building into a convention center of sorts with the gym being the main focus.
“The gymnasium could be used as a public arena,” Peterson said. “It could be rented out. It could be used as a convention center. This is the last chance you’ve got for a public building of that size in Adams County.”
The council brought up the number of properties that Peterson already owns throughout the county, including incomplete properties in Manchester, such as the vacant buildings in downtown Manchester.
“I don’t know how long you have owned them, but they need a lot of work,” Council member Teresa Blythe said.
Mayor Troy Jolly brought into greater focus by asking, “More to the point. If you have 70 properties, why aren’t you investing in those properties? Why do you want to invest this money in this property?”
Peterson replied, “We are constantly rebuilding the properties. Literally. If you were asking for a quarter of a million dollars for your building up there, I wouldn’t be at all interested, because I can’t afford it. What you’re asking for is like a down and out mobile home.”
Council member Hilderbrand pointed out during the discussion that the old high school doesn’t have city sewage going to it. The building behind the school was a lift station that the school maintained; however the lift station is no longer operational.
After both bidders had spoken, council discussed the offers. It was pointed out that they had to reject Broerman’s bid, because it failed to meet the minimum criteria. As they considered Peterson’s bid, council members were hesitant to sell the property as his business proposal wasn’t well defined.
Council member Evelyn Henderson made a motion to reject both bids, and Hildebrand seconded the motion, as all the members felt that they needed to put out for bids once more. Freeman, Henderson, and Hildebrand voted for the motion, and Blythe voted against. Since all four needed to vote for the motion, it did not pass. The topic of discussion will be placed on the next regular meeting’s agenda as old business.