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Board approves sale— WSU land sale may advance fire station plans

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The Wright State University Board of Trustees voted last Friday to approve the potential sale to a qualified buyer of about four acres of land in Yellow Springs, the former site of the medical clinic on Xenia Avenue between Marshall and Herman streets. While much remains unclear about next steps, the long-awaited board action appears to make more likely the possibility that Miami Township will purchase at least part of the land to build a new fire station on the site.

“It’s another step forward on this long journey,” Chris Mucher, Miami Township trustee, said on Monday regarding the WSU board action. According to Mucher, the trustees hope to receive information from the university on the official sale price for the land by their upcoming regular meeting next Monday, Oct. 17, so they can discuss the purchase at that time. Township and university leaders have met regarding the potential sale in recent months, Mucher said, and discussed a price that, if it doesn’t change, could be workable for the township.

Wright State leaders this week declined to comment on next steps, their asking price for the land or whether they have offers other than that from the Miami Township trustees, according to WSU Communications Director Seth Baugeuss.

If the trustees move forward, they will use money from the Miami Township budget’s general fund to make the purchase, Mucher said. The university has over the past several years received appraisals for the land that range from about $400,000 to almost $800,000, with the higher appraisal made only a few weeks ago, according to Mucher. The land is currently zoned Residence B and subdivided into 22 lots. The fire department needs a minimum of 1.78 acres for building, Mucher said, but the trustees might be interested in purchasing all of the land if the price is right.

If the purchase is made, the township would next put on the May ballot a levy for the fire station, and proceeds from the levy, if successful, would reimburse the township general fund for the land purchase. Previous estimates for the total cost of the fire station construction and land purchase have been $2.5 million to $3 million, although those estimates are several years old. The trustees are currently waiting for an updated estimate from their architect, MCA Architects of Cincinnati.

If the township is able to purchase the property, the purchase will culminate an almost six-year effort to secure the land. The Wright State land was identified several years ago by the fire department as the most favorable property in the village for the new station because it would allow the shortest response time for fire department and rescue squad emergencies, according to Miami Township Fire Chief Colin Altman.

The need for a new fire station was acute several years ago and is more dire now, according to Altman in an interview last week. The current Corry Street station,  more than 60 years old, lacks sufficient space for the department’s vehicles and for its staff quarters, and is increasingly in need of major repairs.

“We’re on the verge of needing to spend substantial amounts of money to make repairs,” Altman said, citing  electrical, HVAC and roof needs for the current building. And because of the lack of space for staff quarters, department employees and volunteers must sleep in quarters directly above the fire trucks, inhaling unhealthy exhaust fumes.

“The health issues remain,” Altman said. “We’re still very hopeful that we can get something new and get out of here.”

The fire department identified the Wright State property as its first choice for a new station more than five years ago, and began then communicating with the university. The former Wright State Physicians Family Health Center had been closed in 2009 and the building was razed the following year. While township leaders initially hoped that Wright State would donate the land to the department, the university later said it would not do so because it needed the revenue from the land sale, although WSU’s then Vice-President for Planning Robert Sweeney emphasized that the university hoped to work with the township trustees.

The process has been a long one, slowed down intitially by questions regarding whether the land was owned by the university as a whole or by the Boonshoft School of Medicine, according to Mucher. In recent years, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler have contacted the university in efforts to help the process move forward, according to Mucher, who said efforts have also been helped by Greg Sample, CEO of the WSU real estate affiliate Double Bowler, who did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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