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Published: Tuesday, 9/2/2008

Seneca County officials agree to more time for courthouse renovation plan


TIFFIN Convinced real players were now involved with plans to renovate Seneca County s historic 1884 courthouse, county commissioners on Tuesday agreed to give a development group until Nov. 10 to show them a viable plan for renovating the landmark.

That plan could involve transferring the building to a port authority, which would orchestrate a renovation plan that could benefit from tax credits and grants. Ultimately, the building could become the county courthouse again under a lease agreement with commissioners.

Board President Dave Sauber said he would only accept a proposal that keeps the site a courthouse.

That s been the county seat. It would be economically a benefit because we could connect to our annex, Mr. Sauber said. I see it as a win-win for the county, and it would provide a cost savings.

Tuseday s agreement was contingent on the Seneca County Courthouse Development Group, led by consultant Franklin Conaway, providing commissioners with an agreement by Monday that includes a written commitment from the low-bid demolition contractor extending its bid price through Jan. 1, a certified check by Sept. 29 to cover the expenses of demolition plans that the county has incurred so far, and a written development proposal for the courthouse by Nov. 10.

That proposal would offer the county two options: re-developing the courthouse for alternative uses or renovating it for the common pleas courts and clerk of courts.

Like Mr. Sauber, Commissioner Mike Bridinger said he would prefer to see the site remain a courthouse that commissioners would lease from the port authority for a certain period and then buy back for $1.

Commissioner Ben Nutter said he was reserving judgment on how the building ought to be used until he sees the group s proposal.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-353-5972.

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