TIFFIN, OH (WTOL) - Ohio Governor John Kasich has asked the Seneca County Commissioners to stop the demolition process for the historic Seneca County Courthouse. Commissioners are set to take bids for demolition next week.
In a last ditch effort, the Seneca County Courthouse and Downtown Development Group addressed the Commissioners Tuesday morning before a packed crowd. Franklin Conaway, the president of the group fighting for preservation, urged Commissioners to enter a lease agreement for the building.
The agreement would "mothball" the building, at no cost to the county, for five years. The Seneca County Courthouse and Downtown Development Group would also fund minor repairs, including purchasing new windows for the building.
Governor Kasich faxed a 2-page letter to the Commissioners Monday afternoon, urging them to agree to the lease option.
Of the three Commissioners, two are in favor of tearing the building down. They said Governor Kasich's letter had no impact on their decision.
"I think its actually hypocritical of the governor, who has decimated local budgets across the state, to now come in, and offer up a plan that would have us spend more money," said Commissioner Ben Nutter.
"He's wrong on this issue," said Commissioner Jeff Wagner. "It's time to move forward with tearing this building down. I look forward to opening bids next Tuesday."
The two Commissioners opposed to the lease agreement said it would cost taxpayers more in the long-run.
"We're just delaying the inevitable, and five years down the road, the tax payers are going to be faced with the same situation, and the financial package is going to be even worse," said Commissioner Nutter.
"The proposal is to spruce it up a little bit, but it's a very unattractive, crumbling building in the middle of downtown. It says something about your downtown, it's time to get rid of it," said Commissioner Wagner.
In addition to Governor Kasich's letter, Commissioners have also received letters from the National Trust for Historic Preservation urging Commissioners to save the historic Courthouse.
Conaway said Governor Kasich's support is validating.
"It calls attention to the fact that this is, indeed a very important building, too important for it to be lost," said Conaway. "We're a long way from giving up."
Commissioners are set to take bids for demolition Tuesday. They expect a 2-1 vote in favor of demolishing the building. That vote could happen as soon as Tuesday.
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