Minutes of the February 7th County Commissioners’ meeting note the transfer of "Parcel 41-600003., located in Warren Township, to the Belmont County Port Authority." The minutes do not reference the property as the site east of Tacoma as the home of the Belmont County Children’s Home for a century from 1880 to 1981.
The Quit Claim Deed recorded the following day transferred the remaining 82.34-acre county-owned parcel valued at $123,510, according to records of filed with the Belmont County Auditor, the single remaining standing structure, a garage/barn erected in 1997, is valued at $11,320.
The commissioners reserved for the county all "oil, gas, and other minerals" that may be found and extracted from the property.
While addressing the Barnesville Kiwanis Club in January, commissioner Mark Thomas hinted some movement was afoot. "The Port Authority and County Commissioners are very receptive to see that property developed. We may see something go there in 2018," Thomas said.
Larry Merry, executive director of the Belmont County Port Authority, confirmed the agency has a pending contract to sell the site in a telephone interview this past week.
When the Joint Economic Development District II (JEDD II) was established a few years ago, Merry said the remaining children’s home land was included within the boundaries of the district.
Of the parcel, Merry said only 30-35 of the acres are marketable usable acreage for business or industrial development.
He said the village of Barnesville was consulted regarding the property’s place in the community’s economic development plans before the transfer was made.
"This is all about creating opportunity", Merry said. "We need sites and buildings that can be used for industry associated with the cracker plant."
"We want Belmont County to capture as much of the economic job-creating development as possible."
"There has been a lot of talk from the state of the lack of economic development sites in the area. The state has pressured Belmont County to develop more sites – they want more sites ready if the "cracker" plant comes," Merry added.
"We are in an absolute race right now to try to gather up sites so that we can have a place to have a place to have the "cracker" have a greater effect on this region, whatever else is going on here with the shale gas."
This property can easily figure into that formula.