Engineer defends purchase of courthouse remains as cost-saving.
A dump truck unloads stone and brick from the Seneca County Courthouse on the grounds of the county engineer's office in Tiffin.
TIFFIN -- Seneca County Engineer Mark Zimmerman has gotten criticism and "attaboys" alike for working out a deal to purchase the stone and brick from the county's now-demolished 1884 courthouse.
"I've gotten both sides of that," Mr. Zimmerman said. "What I tell people is, regardless of what side of the debate you were on, it made no sense to me -- being a steward of your tax dollars -- to let something go to the landfill that I can save you a lot of money with."
His department annually buys stone for road and bridge projects. B&B Wrecking and Excavating, which was hired to level the courthouse, would have had to pay to deposit it at a landfill.
Before demolition began in early January, County Commissioner Dave Sauber put two and two together and suggested the county engineer look into buying the stone from B&B. He said he's glad it worked out.
"I think it's very smart any time you can utilize something at what he purchased that for," Mr. Sauber said. "You're never going to please everyone, but if you really look at the big picture, is it better to reuse it for something that would benefit the county and have a savings, or put it in a landfill and it just fills up the ground?"
With the courthouse now completely leveled, the mountain of stone and brick that grew as the excavators and a wrecking ball did their work in downtown Tiffin has been relocated to the Seneca County engineer's garage on State Rt. 100 just south of U.S. 224.
Mr. Zimmerman estimates B&B will deliver about 6,500 tons of debris and crush it into driveway-type stone and fine gravel that packs nicely for berm along roads.
The stone and brick, which is being delivered by B&B at no hauling cost to the county engineer, is costing the engineer's office $3.60 per ton -- $2 per ton for the material and $1.60 per ton to crush it.
Mr. Zimmerman said his costs for purchasing and hauling stone from a quarry are closer to $20 a ton, when you add in not only the cost of the material, but the cost of equipment, gas, and employees' time.
The cost savings is substantial -- about $23,000 for the 6,500 tons from the courthouse compared to more than $100,000 normally -- regardless of how residents viewed the destruction of the historic sandstone and brick courthouse.
"It's not something I did," he said of the county commissioners' 2-1 decision to tear down the downtown landmark. "It's something I'm making the best I can of, for the taxpayers of Seneca County."
While the orange-tinged mountain of courthouse debris is visible from State Rt. 100, it is behind a locked fence and is not accessible to the public. That is for safety as much as anything.
"There have been a lot of people who have wanted to come out and go through the pile," Mr. Zimmerman said. "I do not allow it. I climbed on the pile myself, and it's very unstable."
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6129.
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