Washington Twp., Centerville at odds on Uptown property

Centerville purchased a property at 39 N. Main St. as part of its Uptown development plan. The city agreed to pay $340,000 for the property that was listed at $375,000. Washington Twp. officials say that they wanted the property for green space. STAFF
Centerville purchased a property at 39 N. Main St. as part of its Uptown development plan. The city agreed to pay $340,000 for the property that was listed at $375,000. Washington Twp. officials say that they wanted the property for green space. STAFF

Washington Twp. officials say a recent property purchase by Centerville announced as part of that city’s Uptown redevelopment plan had been part of the township’s future green space design.

Earlier this month, Centerville city officials announced the purchase of a property at 39 N. Main St. as part of its Uptown development plan. The city agreed to pay $340,000 for the property that was listed at $375,000.

Washington Twp. officials say that they wanted the property for green space. The land sits between Town Hall and Burke Orthodontics.

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Township Administrator Jesse Lightle said trustees, on June 3, approved a resolution to submit an application for a $300,000 grant to preserve green space next to the Town Hall Theatre.

Lightle said Washington Twp. has long advocated the value of open space in the community and under the township’s grant application, limited local tax dollars would have been spent to acquire the property.

“Our elected officials and partners at Centerville Washington History and the Americana Festival strongly supported the creation of a proposed ‘Founders Park’ that would celebrate our community’s rich history and transform an eye-sore into a valued community gathering place,” she said. “It is a Centerville address, and the property is located in the incorporated area of Washington Twp.”

The township learned that Centerville had purchased the property, and Lightle said officials were surprised.

“Centerville officials did know that the township was working on a grant application,” she said. “Trustee President Dale Berry contacted Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton the week of May 13 and asked the city to support the grant application. Two follow-up phone conversations occurred between them on May 21 and May 22.”

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The township’s Realtor made an offer on the property to the real estate agent for the seller. The township was not given the opportunity by the seller to make a counter offer, according to Lightle.

Centerville officials said they were not aware the township was working on a grant for the property, nor were they asked to partner on any park project. They contend the property was strictly purchased to be a part of its Uptown plan.

“Our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan outlines a major goal of promoting a community at Main and Franklin (now Uptown) that attracts, retains and supports businesses with forward-thinking policy and planning,” City Manager Wayne Davis said. “In four meetings that ran from February to May of this year, we convened a group of stakeholders to build on this Strategic Plan item.”

The committee stakeholders represented property and business owners, Washington Twp., Town Hall Theater, Centerville Washington History, Centerville Schools, the Board of Architectural Review, Planning Commission and people who live in the surrounding neighborhood, Davis said.

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Davis said, “We are unsure as to the origins of the technical definition of ‘shared downtown property.’”

The township trustees sent a letter to the city, saying, “We remain disappointed that our phone call to you asking you to support our grant application resulted in you outbidding us for the property.”

It went on to state that the township supports thoughtful land use “in our shared downtown and also because the land has great potential to support community needs.”

Lightle said although the township doesn’t hold the title to the property on North Main Street, as a key stakeholder, the trustees would like to work with Centerville in order to create green space and a Founder’s Park.

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Davis said Centerville is eager to work with the township and other stakeholders regarding the property and development across Uptown.

“We invited the township to be a part of that process, and the township was represented at the four meetings of the committee,” Davis said.

He said the city is excited about the possibilities for the property.

“We’re open-minded and we will soon begin exploring options. City Council might decide that area should be developed as green space, or it may be home to a new business that fits within the vision set forth in the Uptown Action Plan in accordance with the city’s Strategic Plan,” Davis said.

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