LIMA — Allen County commissioners approved the purchase of 2000 N. West St., the former Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 headquarters, during their Friday morning meeting.
Commissioners had been considering taking ownership of the 33-acre property over the last few years, but due to its poor condition, Commissioner Cory Noonan said the option had been left on the back-burner as the renovations necessary to use the site’s buildings would be extensive.
According to the Allen County Auditor’s Office, the property is worth nearly $1.7 million. County commissioners and ODOT agreed to a $1 purchase price.
ODOT moved off the property to consolidate its operations at its McCullough Street property.
With the lot in hand, the county now has the ability to make use of some of the vacant land while keeping the rest of the space open for a federal agency that has shown some interest in using part of the property.
Currently, the county uses some of the space for storage and has an agreement with ODOT to maintain the property. In the county’s 2019 budget, $11,000 is set aside for utilities and basic lawn upkeep.
Commissioner Jay Begg said the county’s use of the vacant land would include the construction of a salt storage shed and a potential fueling station. In the short-term, ODOT will be using sections of the lot until the summer.
Allen County Engineer Brion Rhodes said the county currently has the storage capacity to hold 700 tons of salt, but that’s not enough to avoid price fluctuations that can greatly impact county savings. With an expanded 7,000 storage facility, the county could potentially save $250,000 a year by enabling the county to “ride out” the ups and downs of the market.
“Every time it snows, I got to buy salt,” Rhodes said. “It really adds up quick. (The property) gives us a lot of options.”
The savings in salt could also be passed down to local townships, which have contracts in place to purchase salt from the county.
“We really appreciate ODOT helping us out on this,” Rhodes said.
In roughly a decade, Begg said the county could re-examine using the space for an expansion of the Allen County Engineer’s Office.
The county recently approved roof renovations to the current engineer’s office building to increase its longevity after voters denied a sales tax increase that would have paid for the construction of a larger engineer’s office building.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.