HEBRON – Citing a need to centralize offices and operations, Union 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.
The property’s appraised value was $320,000 and the township was the sole bidder against the Baptist Foundation, that held the mortgage. The church itself is a single story on a concrete slag covering 6,800 square feet. The property includes a covered 36 by 60 feet picnic shelter with a concrete floor and electrical service, a roughly 1.5 acre gravel parking lot, plus an overgrown basketball court and a baseball/ softball field at the rear of the property. The property backs up to four homes.
“The sale was on again, off again,” said Trustee Rick Black, who was the bidder during the auction. Trustees were aware the church property went into foreclosure early this summer and discussed its purchase during executive sessions, which legally exclude the public and media.
Black said the property is near the township’s center and perfect for centralizing the township offices and the police department, which are now several miles apart.
Trustee President John Slater said consolidating the township’s operations would help the township maintain records more accurately. “The opportunity fell into our laps,” he said. Slater said trustees moved to become bidders on the property following an executive session Aug. 30.
Black said there is a “possibility” the township may build a satellite fire station on the property, which would significantly improve response time to areas of the township like Blacks Road. He’s not sure if the building’s capable of housing a community center, but time will tell.
In other township news:
• Resident Chuck Boyer attended Monday night’s meeting to ask trustees what more they can do to curb loud music coming from the Mill Dam Corner Grille at the US 40 and Mill Dam Road intersection. “We’re struggling with it because they don’t want to quit,” said Boyer, who lives near the bar.
Licking Township Police Captain Paula Greene said the bar was served with violations in the past. It was asked to enclose its outdoor beer garden area, which includes a stage, to dampen music and to provide safer parking for patrons. Currently, some patrons park across Mill Dam Road. She said the club’s liquor license is up for renewal in February, and the township could take the issue to the liquor board if the noise and parking problems persist. “I’m not trying to shut them down by any means,” said Greene, but she believes the business hasn’t been a good neighbor.
“You call them and they ignore you,” said Boyer. He said he’s ready to put his house up for sale, but questioned who would buy it with all the noise. Boyer said he understood the music was supposed to shut down at 11 p.m., but it sometimes plays longer. “They keep saying they will, but they don’t,” he said.
Slater reiterated that the township doesn’t want to shut down the bar, but the business needs to make some changes for the safety of its customers. “We feel your frustration,” Slater told Boyer.
Mill Dam Corner Grille management could not be reached for comment.
• Resident Bill Gulick asked the trustees if they would lend township support for the Lakewood School District’s upcoming 9.9 mills levy, which will be on the November ballot.
Slater said trustees can endorse the levy personally, but he didn’t agree with using the office, such as issuing a statement that the township government approves of the levy, to show support for Lakewood or any other levy. “Certainly, individually, we can say whatever we want,” he said.
Black pointed out that Union Township also includes parts of the Granville and Southwest Licking school districts. He said he supports the levy personally. Slater said passing the levy is “good for everyone” as a strong community is based on a strong school district.
• Trustees reviewed information about a proposed widening and realignment of Thornwood Drive from just north of Beaver Run Road to its River Road intersection in Newark. According to ODOT District 5, there were 72 accidents on Thornwood Drive between 2002 and 2004. Proposed improvements include expanding lanes to 12 feet wide each direction with 10 feet graded shoulders, turn lanes, and culverts extended away from the pavement.
ODOT District 5 spokeswoman Kate Stickle said currently there is no timeline for the project, which will cost roughly $12.1 million and can be constructed in phases. The cities of Newark and Heath, the Licking County Area Transportation Study, and the port authority are searching for funding.
A public meeting was held Sept. 16 to complete the environmental document, said Stickle.