November 23, 2014

Elyria
Showers
45°F
test

Oberlin buys Green Acres property from county

ELYRIA — The Lorain County commissioners on Wednesday agreed to sell the former Green Acres Children’s Home to the city of Oberlin for $265,000.

The 15-acre property housed the county’s orphanage from 1898 until the facility was closed in 1995.

Exactly what the city will do with the property is still being decided, although city officials have said they hope to tear the aged building down and possibly turn the land into a park.

Gary Boyle, the city’s planning director, said Wednesday that the city will assess the property and building before determining what to do.

The commissioners said they were relieved to rid themselves of the building, which has long drained county maintenance resources and has never been used.

However, the county can’t simply use the $265,000 generated from the sale to help close the looming budget gap in the county’s general fund budget that is expected next year.

The land was willed to the county by the original owners, George and Eliza York and Minerva Powers, but with the stipulation that it could only be used for the benefit of the county’s children.

Those restrictions were eased in 2001 and again earlier this year so the property could be sold.

But county Probate Judge James Walther, who agreed to the most recent changes to the deed restrictions, said Wednesday that the money from the sale must still go toward improving the lives of the county’s children.

Commissioner Tom Williams said he had hoped that the money could be sent to the county’s Juvenile Court while other money was kept in the general fund.

Walther said while the county may be able to use some of the money for general fund expenses — as a payback of sorts for building and maintaining the structures on the land — most of it must still be used for the children and not to plug a hole in the Juvenile Court budget.

“When Minerva Powers donated this property to the county of Lorain, it was not her intention to have the property fix the budget problem that we currently have,” he said.

Commissioner Ted Kalo said while he and his fellow commissioners understand the restrictions, they are hopeful Walther will permit them to use the money to bolster county programs that help children.

Walther said the money could be used for those purposes or even be given to nonprofit organizations that work with children.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.