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WSU to sell land to Township

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On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Wright State University Board of Trustees approved the sale of land on Xenia Avenue in Yellow Springs, a portion of the site of the former WSU medical clinic, to the Miami Township Trustees. The sale culminates an almost six-year effort by the township to acquire the land, which it hopes to use as the site of a new fire station.

“We are extremely excited to finally have this part of the process completed,” Miami Township Fire Chief Colin Altman said on Tuesday. “It’s been a long process. We’re looking forward to making our case to the public and moving forward.”

Following the Wednesday early morning meeting, Wright State board members said they had wanted to both sell the land at a fair price and contribute to the welfare of the village.
“We’ve had this property for a while and we wanted to be good partners with Yellow Springs,” said WSU board member Anuj Goyal, the chair of the board’s building and grounds committee. “We tried to find a balance between getting fair value for the land and working with the city to find out what’s needed.”

The sale price of $350,000 covers a two-acre area that fronts Xenia Avenue. Township officials had previously said they needed at least that amount of land to construct the fire station. According to Township Trustee Chris Mucher this week, the township had offered the $350,000 for the whole site, but ended up getting about half of the four-acre parcel.
According to Goyal on Wednesday, the university is currently holding onto the rest of the land, which includes 15 Residence B lots. The university has not yet received other offers for the land, he said, but the board is open to considering a use that benefits the community.

The WSU board action follows a vote several weeks ago to sell the land to a qualified buyer. At that time, Mucher said the trustees had been in talks with WSU about the potential land purchase, but it was not clear if other potential buyers were also interested. Also, the board at that time didn’t state the sale price for the land, which had recently been appraised to be worth almost $800,000 for the whole parcel.

The parcel, directly across Herman Street from Friends Care Community, was identified by the Miami Township Fire Department several years ago as the best spot in the village for a new fire station because it would offer the shortest response time for fire and rescue squads. The land was previously the site of the Wright State Physicians Family Health Center, which closed in 2009 and was razed the following year.

While township officials initially hoped that Wright State would donate the land to the fire department after the clinic closed, the university later said it needed the revenue from the land sale. However, WSU’s Executive Vice President for Planning Robert Sweeney emphasized that the university hoped to work with the township trustees.

It’s been about five years since the township first made its offer to the WSU board, but the delay is not unusual, according to Sweeney this week. Before selling the land, the university had to determine whether it might be needed for university purposes, and many people needed to weigh in on that question. Ultimately, he said, the board determined that WSU does not have a use for the land, so agreed to sell it.

The township’s next step is to put a levy on the ballot for the cost of the new fire station, according to Altman. While the levy could go on the ballot in either May or November 2017, earlier would be better, Altman said.

“The sooner we get approval, the sooner we can move forward,” Altman said.

The levy amount has not yet been determined. Several years ago, the department received an estimate of $2.5 to $3 million for the cost of the new fire station. However, that estimate is now considered dated, and the trustees are waiting on a current estimate from their architects, MCA Architects of Cincinnati.

The need for a new fire station became acute in recent years, as the current Corry Street station, built more than 60 years ago, is too small and in bad repair, the trustees have said. The station lacks sufficient space to store the department’s vehicles, and the only space for employees and volunteers to sleep is above the garage, so that unhealthy exhaust fumes are inhaled.

The department is also on the verge of having to spend significant amounts of money for upgrades for the facility, including repairs to the roof, heating and electrical systems, Altman said in a recent interview.

If the levy goes on the May ballot and passes, the fire station should be constructed within a few years, according to Mucher.

“I’m pleased to be moving forward with the project,” he said. “We have lots of work to do, finalizing a design and doing it as efficiently as we can for the taxpayers. We’ll do our best to provide for the needs of the next 50 years.”

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WSU to sell land to Township

by Diane Chiddister