Galion City Schools takes first step toward land purchase

GALION — Galion City Schools has taken the first step toward the possible purchase of more than 17 acres of land adjacent to the current district campus.

School board members, after a public hearing at Thursday’s board meeting, gave Superintendent James Grubbs permission to enter into negotiations with the estate of landowner Philip Hesby to come up with a final contract to purchase the land, which is south and west of the campus.

In the approximately 30 minute hearing, three themes were evident: safety, quality of life and control.

In his presentation, Grubbs outlined his reasons for wanting the land purchase and the subsequent building projects he would like to see. But he stressed safety. Between practices near the downtown area for soccer teams and having nothing but away games this season, other teams which do conditioning on the high school track, girls softball players having to be picked up and dropped off behind the YMCA in Heise Park, soccer teams who and evacuation plans in effect that have 500 students having to cross Ohio 598, there is plenty of opportunity for something bad to happen, and he’d like to cut down on those opportunities.

Larry Palmer specifically addressed the soccer program.

“One season of all away games is bad enough,” he said. “Two is not fair. It’s hard on the students and parents.”

Joe Kleinknecht of the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce said the purchase of the land and future building projects is a quality of life issue, and he feels better athletic venues would draw families to the Galion district.

Galion Dr. Ty Huggins said the purchase of the land is a no-brainer.

“If you don’t own it,” he said. “You don’t control it … even if we don’t build on in. But this would be something good for future generations of student/athletes.”

About 30 community members showed up the public hearing.

All but one were enthusiastic about the purchase and plans for the property in the future.

The negative was from a Highland Avenue resident who moved to the area after retiring from the service. He said he enjoys the view now from his yard, and would not like it if a construction project was launched in the near future.

He said the project might be a reason to move.

Roy Benson is the executor of the Hesby estate. He said at the end of the public hearing that the estate’s intent is to sell the land to the school district. He also said the estate will not negotiate with other parties while this part of the process is ongoing.

Grubbs said any agreement to purchase must be contingent on the outcome of a title search, boring samples and other tests to assure the district can do with the new property what it wants.

“Right now our goal is to purchase the land,” he said. “This is a win-win for the district.”

The purchase price for the land has not been announced, but Grubbs said “it will be less than Bucyrus recently paid for a single acre.”

His plan is to have a contract to purchase ready to go before board members at the October school board meeting.

Tentative plans for the property include building a bus garage to replace the current garage at the corner of Knorr Road and Edwards Street and construction of a multi-use facility that could be used by the district for soccer fields, a new all-weather track and in the future more athletic fields and practice facilities, including a place for the marching band to practice and possibly a new softball field.

“I want to grow this school district,” Grubbs said. “These types of facilities I believe will help do that.”

Once the property is purchased, a committee will be formed to take a look at exactly what to do with it, when to do it and how to finance future projects.

By Russ Kent