By DENISE GRANT
Findlay City Council’s debate over whether to sell city-owned property at 428 W. Main Cross St. got underway in earnest on Tuesday, with council members planning to visit the building before any decision is made.
Earlier this month, Mayor Lydia Mihalik asked council to consider selling the building, which was bought by the city in 2012 for $270,000 for the purpose of housing the city’s health department, before the city and county health departments merged.
Findlay Safety Director Paul Schmelzer raised the issue again at Tuesday’s regular council meeting, questioning allegations made by City Auditor Jim Staschiak that city officials intentionally made it difficult for the health department to use the building.
Staschiak was critical of the city’s handling of the building and its potential sale in a letter to the editor published in Tuesday’s edition of The Courier.
“As an elected official, I stand against spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars only to sell certain properties at a fraction of the cost the public shelled out for them, only to spend more on alternatives,” the letter said.
Schmelzer said it was the cost of upgrading the building, which is similar to a pole barn, to house the health department, that led to the site being abandoned. Renovating the building was going to cost about $500,000.
Mayor Mihalik said investors who have been renovating and building along West Main Cross Street want something done with the property. Two dilapidated structures at the northeast corner of the property would be demolished before the city sells or auctions the main building.
The city is using the building for storage, Schmelzer said Tuesday.
In his letter to the editor, Staschiak said he walked through the building and said it’s in “fairly good shape, certainly maintainable and being actively used by the city.”
“Why would we sell any property prior to having a completed strategic plan for the city, including a full study of our administration and operational space needs projected over the next 10 to 20 years?” Staschiak asked in the letter.
Until a decision is made, Staschiak said, the city should maintain the property “to the standards we are aggressively enforcing on our citizens these days.
“Minimum maintenance standards do indeed exist,” he writes.
Staschiak was silent on the topic at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Council members plan to tour the facility during an informal committee of the whole meeting to be held at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Main Cross Street location.