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Land at site of former Barberton school draws more interest

By Alison Stewart
Special to the Beacon Journal

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BARBERTON: There might be another buyer in the mix for the vacant property formerly occupied by Oakdale Elementary School.

City Council last week introduced an ordinance authorizing Mayor Bill Judge to purchase the property from the Barberton Board of Education for $1.

However, the school board entered a purchase agreement, for $73,000, with Summa Barberton Hospital in May. Summa plans to turn the vacant space into a parking lot.

City officials instead would like to create a park to preserve green space in Barberton, maintain the quiet in the neighborhoods surrounding the vacant lots and maintain property values.

Councilman Craig Megyes said citizens in the surrounding neighborhood participated in a poll, and results showed most residents are not interested in having a parking lot in that area. Their reasons included lighting, increased traffic and the possibility of crime.

Megyes said Summa must obtain zoning approval or a conditional-use permit to complete the purchase agreement with the school board. The city has not received an application from Summa.

School board President Joe Stefan said there is no deadline for Summa to get a zoning permit.

“Summa is the only business that has given us an offer for this property,” Stefan said. “They are in no hurry to turn the lot into a parking lot.”

Stefan said it could take Summa a few years to actually purchase the lot.

“Their parking deck is too costly to maintain, and they would therefore like to create a parking lot instead,” he said.

Judge said the city has requested to purchase the property for $1 because Barberton has purchased properties from the school board for this amount in the past.

“We are not looking to sell this property for $1,” Stefan said. “We are not going to sell the lot out from under Summa.”

Stefan said that if the legislation for the city to purchase the property for $1 passes, the board simply will deny the request unless Summa withdraws.

The school, which stood at 163 Third St. NE for more than 75 years, was demolished in 2006, according to the Barberton Historical Society.

Summa will hold a town meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 in the hospital conference room, 201 Fifth St. NE, to discuss the purchase of the property.

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