By DENISE GRANT
It’s safe to say that Findlay City Council’s planned Thursday tour of city-owned property at 428 W. Main Cross St. just got a little shorter.
Two dilapidated outbuildings on the property were demolished Monday.
Council members plan to tour the rest of the property during an informal committee of the whole meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday.
“I’m just flabbergasted to see buildings coming down just days before council was set to go look at them,” City Auditor Jim Staschiak said Monday.
Councilwoman Holly Frische sounded the alarm Monday afternoon when she sent out an email to city officials asking what was going on. She also copied in a Courier reporter on the email.
“A little concerned… I thought council was touring these buildings Thursday? Was not aware that we approved demo… please explain what’s going on,” she said.
Earlier this month, Mayor Lydia Mihalik asked council to consider selling the main building on the property, 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 Service Director Brian Thomas said council was made aware of the city’s plans to demolish the two outbuildings in a mayor’s letter dated Aug. 7, and again at the Aug. 21 council meeting, when Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said the city was moving ahead with plans to demolish two dilapidated buildings on the site.
Thomas said council will tour the remaining buildings on Thursday.
In the email chain discussing Monday’s demolition, Councilman John Harrington, R-5, said, “Buildings discussed are junk and need to go.”
Staschiak was critical of the city’s handling of the property and its potential sale, in a letter to the editor published in last 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 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.
The city is using the building for storage, Schmelzer said last week.
In his letter to the editor, Staschiak said he walked through the main 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.