LIMA — What was once a dilapidated house full of miscellaneous junk will now be a playground for schoolchildren thanks to a property donation by the Allen County Land Bank to St. Rose School, located on North West Street. The lot joins two other parcels purchased by the school on its west side.
Rev. David Ross said the school plans on beautifying the area and adding play sets that can be used by students at the school. Teachers may also use the lot on nice days to teach the children outside. A secondary effect is that it beautifies the neighborhood and creates a space for members of the community, many of whom have children enrolled in the school.
“People need beauty as much as they need food,” Ross said.
The parcel had been acquired by the Allen County Land Bank because of delinquent taxes. Land Bank Administrator Rachael Gilroy said the property had been delinquent for almost a decade before it was acquired and gifted to the St. Rose School.
Ross said the neighboring house, which has since been demolished, was the scene of a drug overdose.
Now, the space is wide open and shaded by a few sparse trees. Before gifting the parcel, the land bank also added a small sitting area with two benches and a number of rose bushes. Ross said with this latest acquisition and a recently completed new addition on the school building, St. Rose is set for more growth.
Gilroy said the Allen County Land Bank has made similar property transfers to other charitable and nonprofit organizations in the past. They’ve also made side lots available to neighboring property owners to expand their yards.
As is often the case, former land bank properties are too small to be re-used as housing lots because of zoning laws that define property margins and the current market demand for larger houses.
Gilroy encouraged other nonprofits interested in obtaining side lots to contact the Allen County Auditor’s Office at 419-223-8520 for options.
The Allen County Land Bank, currently funded by a federal grant, has demolished 215 blighted houses throughout the county. Another 40 are out to bid, but Gilroy estimates the land bank will be able to tear down 10 to 15 more dilapidated structures before federal funding dries up.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.