Lucas County commissioners said yesterday they plan to buy slightly more than 100 acres in Waterville Township and may consider moving the Lucas County agricultural society to county land north of the site.
The land commissioners intend to buy is owned by the city of Toledo and is part of an approximately 310-acre parcel.
The Toledo Area Metropark District last week offered $1.3 million to buy slightly more than 200 acres of the same parcel. Commissioners and metropark officials have said they have no immediate plans to develop the area but hope to preserve it as open space.
Commissioners will pay $700,000 to Toledo for the 103 acres, which includes the former Toledo House of Correction and some other buildings.
They will use a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of $1,050,000 for the purchase. The rest of the money will be used for a required environmental study and to begin either renovating or razing some of the buildings on the land.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said he agreed to sell the land, which fronts on Neapolis-Waterville Road, west of Finzel Road, to the county and the metropark district.
The county owns about 300 more acres south of the Whitehouse village limits and north of the site being acquired. Some of that land is leased on a year-to-year basis to a farmer, and another portion is leased to Whitehouse and is used primarily for recreational purposes.
Harry Barlos, county commissioner, said at yesterday's meeting that the land should be considered as a possible site for the county's agricultural society and the annual Lucas County Fair.
The society and the commissioners have agreed that the society and the fair should be moved from the Lucas County Recreation Center on Key Street in Maumee.
The residential nature of the area surrounding the recreation center has kept the fair from presenting popular but noisy attractions such as tractor pulls.
Sandy Isenberg, president of the commissioners, said because the property now owned by the county abuts Whitehouse, care should be taken in considering it as a site for the fair so residents won't be troubled by noise or traffic.
The county's soil and water conservation district has been using the workhouse property to operate an agricultural research center and conduct tours for school children taking lessons concerning ecology.
At one time, the district leased the site from the city for $1 a year. Although the city canceled the lease in 1997 and put the property up for sale, the district has continued its activities there.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who secured the HUD money for the county's purchase of the property, said it is her intention that the conservation district continue its educational activities on the land and eventually be part of a broader initiative to conserve open land in the region.
Mr. Barlos said a move by the agricultural society to the property might “be a natural fit. It could be an agricultural haven and education center,” he said.
Officials of both the county and the metropark district have said the land should remain in the public domain and not be used for private purposes in the future.
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