Trustees begin church renovations
HEBRON – What do you do with a steeple and a $20,000 internally lit electronic sign?
Those are some of the issues facing Union Township Trustees as they try to turn a former church into something useful for the township. Trustees purchased the former Licking Baptist Church and its 7.1-acre lot at 1380 Beaver Run Rd. for $310,000 during a Licking County Sheriff’s auction Sept. 3. Trustees plan to use the 6,800 square foot church for township offices, record storage, meetings and possibly for road equipment storage and a future satellite fire station.
Trustee Rick Black said during Monday night’s regular trustees meeting that removing the church’s steeple is the township’s responsibility and needs to be done quickly and carefully. He said the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office recommended removing anything that identifies the building as a church as quickly as possible. Black wasn’t sure if the steeple could be donated to someone, but he was certain that a crane should remove it, as opposed to a well intentioned group of people trying to remove it by hand and risking injury.
“The sign is also the township’s responsibility,” said Black. He said he found out the church’s sign, which is internally lit and has an electronic LED display, cost $20,000 in 2007. “I about fell off my chair,” said Black. He said the computer to operate the LED display is gone, but its software remains so any computer can operate the sign. Black estimated the township could probably sell the sign for roughly $8,000 today. He said a Florida sign company could deliver new faceplates for the sign for roughly $1,500. “That’s a little stiff,” said Black.
Trustee Jesse Ours suggested covering the faceplates with vinyl signs, but Black pointed out that since the sign is internally lit, the church faceplates would show through the vinyl.
“Is that sign really government appropriate?” asked Union Township zoning inspector Paula Greene. “It’s out of place and too big.” She suggested selling it for what it’s worth and purchasing a new, smaller sign. However, trustees agreed the LED message display is extremely useful and opted to keep the sign and will continue to look for ways to modify it for the township’s purpose as inexpensively as possible.
Black said all the church building’s locks were changed. “Each door had its own key,” he said. Trustee President John Slater said the entire locksmith bill was $93. “That’s pretty low,” he said.
Black said the church building’s baptistery was removed, which wasn’t easy. “It was huge” and not easily accessible, he said. The loft storage area is full of obsolete computers, which may be donated or discarded in an environmentally friendly manner. Trustees decided the former church’s office furniture would be useful to the township.
In other township news:
• Austin Leckliter, of the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office, said the latest fire contract proposal from the Village of Hebron is “on his desk” and under review before it’s passed to the trustees for their consideration. He said Wednesday that he hopes the proposed contract would be ready to send to trustees by the end of the week. Trustees and the Village of Hebron have been trying to reach an agreement since the beginning of the year.
• Trustees hired contractor Down to Earth to do culvert work on Blacks Road near Beaver Run Road for $2,300. Slater said the township usually does its own culvert work, but the job requires an unusually deep trench that could collapse without the proper equipment, so a contractor was hired. Down to Earth’s was the lowest bid between it and the Layton and Law excavating companies.
• Slater said Keller Road, which has some heavy vehicle traffic, had some ruts in its new asphalt surface, although it was relatively rut free once its repaving was complete. However, he said the Shelly Company, the township’s resurfacing contractor, will keep a close eye on Keller Road to make sure no additional ruts appear.
• Trustees approved closing Canal Road from Ohio 79 to just north of the I-70 overpass June 25, 2011 from 9 a.m. to noon to accommodate a 5K run sponsored by the Friends of the Buckeye Lake Library.