City considers future of Ohio Building

By Michael Seffrin - [email protected]

SIDNEY — Sidney city officials plan to have a structural engineer inspect the Ohio Building downtown as they decide what to do with the deteriorating structure.

Last week, city officials closed the sidewalk along Ohio Avenue in front of the Ohio Building due to safety concerns. During an inspection of the building, it was discovered that the part of the basement that is located underneath the sidewalk may not be providing adequate support for the sidewalk area, city officials said. The sidewalk will remain closed until the city can have a structural engineer come to inspect this area of the basement and determine if it is structurally sound.

City Manager Mark Cundiff discussed the Ohio Building with Sidney City Council at its work session Monday night. City officials and council members did a “walk-through” of the building earlier Monday.

Cundiff, who estimated an engineer’s report would be completed in 30 to 45 days after an inspection, said the building probably would need a complete upgrade before it would be usable again.

The Ohio Building, a prominent downtown structure that once was occupied by several professional offices and other businesses, has been vacant several years.

Cundiff said the city may have to consider: “Do we want to expend public money now” to save the building? Having the engineer’s report will help answer that question, he said.

Cundiff said Tuesday the owner of the building is Sidney Ohio Building LLC, of Hayward, California. That company filed bankruptcy in 2010, according to court records. Cundiff said the owners initially thought they no longer owned the building because of the bankruptcy, but more recently the city has been in contact with them.

“The owners have given us (the city) the option of taking ownership of the building,” Cundiff said.

The costs to make the building safe and bring it up to code are factors in what will happen to the building, Cundiff said, as potential new owners consider whether to invest in the structure.

“If nothing is done,” Cundiff said, the city would have to demolish the building. That’s what happened with another downtown building, the Taylor Building, which stood at the northeast corner of Poplar Street and Main Avenue. It was torn down in 2011.

In other business Monday night, council decided not to pursue a proposal to use a “consent agenda” at meetings. This process involves streamlining agendas so that council can deal with routine matters more quickly.

The consent agenda was proposed to council earlier this year by City Clerk Kari Egbert and Law Director Jeff Amick. Egbert said Monday night that a check with other towns found, “Everybody who was using it had rave reviews.”

Mayor Mike Barhorst said council members who discussed the matter with him felt meetings were going relatively quickly and there was no need at this time to condense them.

Council also wanted the public to be aware of what its representatives are doing. “I like the sunshine effect,” Councilman Steve Wagner said.

Cundiff told council more information is available about a break-in of a maintenance building at Custenborder Field that occurred recently. He said it was discovered later that $1,300 worth of tools were stolen. Police are continuing investigation of the crime.

Cundiff also reported that the Ohio Municipal League is continuing to monitor legislation in the state Legislature that would impact how cities collect income taxes and would result in a loss of revenues.

In final business, council went into an executive session to discuss appointment of a public official.

By Michael Seffrin

[email protected]

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.