In March when the Enterprise broke the story about the transfer of the bulk of the former Children’s Home property by county commissioners to the Belmont County Port Authority, the sale to an area developer was expected to follow shortly.
Now, four months after the February 8 transfer, the county is waiting on the State of Ohio Department of Administrative Services to release an "assignment" on the property, a move necessary to clear the title for the sale. While researching the deed in preparation for the transfer, the state’s interest was discovered.
At issue is a $900,000 grant the county received from the State Controlling Board in 1998 that on August 5 the Enterprise reported:
"The Ohio Controlling Board has approved the release of $900,000 for the Belmont County Regional Human Services Buildings Project from the state’s Capital Appropriations Funds.
"Half of the $900,000 is dedicated for use as the Belmont County Human Services West project in Barnesville which includes a site survey, excavation, roofing and interior construction. The other half will be used for the Someplace Special project in Martins Ferry, which consists of upgrading the building’s mechanical and electrical system and bringing it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both buildings will house state and local government tenants."
Ohio Senator Jim Carnes (R-St. Clairsville) announced the grant at that time.
During a telephone interview this past week, Belmont County Port Authority Executive Director Larry Merry, said the state placed the assignment, or lien, on the property in anticipation of the construction of the office building.
At the Tacoma site, Merry identified the Western Division Court as one Belmont County offices slated for the development.
In the end, the Tacoma project did not materialize and, according to Merry, the money was reallocated for the Martins Ferry project.
Merry said the pending purchase contract has been extended and remains active. Several media outlets have identified the intended purchaser of the property as Jefferis Real Estate LLC of Barnesville. The Enterprise will provide additional details on the sale and development once the transfer is complete.