TIFFIN — The long-running battle to save Seneca County’s 1884 courthouse heated up again Tuesday morning as advocates from across the state pleaded with county commissioners to take demolition off the table.
It was an emotionally charged meeting as members of the Seneca County Courthouse and Downtown Redevelopment Group outlined alternatives to demolishing the historic structure.
David Carroll, legal counsel for the group, outlined a proposed lease agreement that would take all financial responsibility for the courthouse from the county and place it on the shoulders of the development group and the Tiffin Historic Trust.
Under the proposal, the group would lease the courthouse for $1 a year, pay for all insurance and utilities, mothball the building according to federal standards, and pay for improvements to its exterior, including new or restored windows on the sides of the building that face East Market and South Washington streets.
Commissioner Dave Sauber said he would read over the proposal, while his fellow board members — Ben Nutter and Jeff Wagner — were silent during much of the meeting. Both Mr. Nutter and Mr. Wagner previously voted to solicit demolition bids, which the board plans to open Nov. 8. Mr. Sauber has said the county cannot afford to renovate the courthouse but also cannot afford the $400,000 or so it would require to tear it down.
Both local and state advocates for historic preservation spoke out in defense of the courthouse.
“My comments are very short,” said Mary Lewis of Tiffin, holding up a sign that said: “Don’t Tear Down Our Courthouse.”