No final decision, but Glouster building likely to become county records center

Former Dollar General

Click here to read original story in the Athens Messenger. Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, June 12 newspaper on Page A1.

With it appearing a former Dollar General building in Glouster will become a county records center rather than a village hall, Mayor Miles Wolf said Tuesday he will recommend that Village Council proceed with expansion of the village’s current municipal building.

Wolf attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Athens County Commissioners, where the former Dollar General building was discussed. The county acquired ownership of the building May 29.

“I just want to know what you’re doing with the building,” Wolf told the commissioners.

The village had earlier expressed interest in using the structure as its new municipal building. Wolf said the village wants to move its police department from the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action building into the municipal building, and there also is a need for handicapped-accessible restrooms. There would be more than enough space in the former Dollar General building.

The Dollar General building is 7,200 square feet, and Wolf has said about 4,200 square feet would be needed for it to serve as the village’s municipal building. It’s been estimated the records center would need about 6,000 square feet, so there would not be room for both.

Commissioner Chris Chmiel said he wants the records center moved to the Dollar General building, and said he was willing to vote on it Tuesday. Commissioner Charlie Adkins said use as a records center appears to be the best option, but he wants better measurements of the available space.

Adkins has said he’d like to see if there is also space for a community meeting room in the building, and possibly an office for Laurie McKnight, director of the Area 14 Workforce Development Board.

The records center and McKnight’s office are the only occupants of a county-owned building on North Lancaster Street in Athens that the commissioners want to sell.

Giving it a percentage, Adkins said it’s in “the high 90s” that the Glouster building will be used as a records center.

“Right now, I think the best option is records center,” Adkins said.

Commissioner Lenny Eliason was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but Eliason told The Messenger last week that he was “not sure yet” if he supported putting the records center in the Dollar General building.

No vote was taken on the matter Tuesday.

Wolf said last week the village already has construction plans for expanding the current municipal building, but was waiting to hear from the commissioners whether the Dollar General building would instead be available to the village.

Chmiel said the air handlers on the Dollar General building have been scrapped, and new ones will cost an estimated $16,000. He said that before proceeding with a replacement system, he wants to see if American Electric Power or Columbia Gas would offer any incentives to the county.

The Messenger previously reported the commissioners had agreed to pay $4,000 in taxes in exchange for getting ownership of the Dollar General building for $1. One June 6, the commissioners sent a letter to JSMN Ohio Properties LLC, the prior owner of the building, thanking the company for its “generous donation.” According to the letter, the county auditor’s records list the value of the property at $452,950.