Clintonville property debate continues
Commission passes resolution urging further talks with OSU
Published: Monday, March 5, 2007
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
The Clintonville Area Commission passed a resolution at its Thursday meeting urging Ohio State officials to discuss plans for two stone cottages previously owned by Mildred "Migg" Urban, who died in 2003 and willed the properties to OSU.
OSU is seeking approval from state lawmakers to sell the property to a private developer for a plan that would put new condominiums in the Clintonville community.
The late Urban requested the larger cottage be preserved and used for visiting faculty of the Knowlton School of Architecture. Several Clintonville residents argued the university should live up to Urban's wishes.
The CAC passed the resolution in hopes of coming up with a solution to preserve Urban's former properties on North High Street and satisfy resident and university needs, said CAC Secretary Paul Harris, who drafted the resolution.
He said the resolution states the CAC's opposition is "not just this specific development, but any development that causes any loss of permanent protection of those stone cottages."
Less than a year after Urban's death, university representatives cited financial hardship with property maintenance. They visited a probate court and received permission to sell Urban's former estate, but they still need approval from the state legislature, which has not made a decision on the issue.
OSU officials have previously said it is not the university's responsibility to maintain the property and it will use the money gained from the sale to start an endowment for visiting professors.
CAC member Mike McLaughlin said he voted against Thursday's resolution because he felt more time was needed to clarify details.
"Sometimes as a commission we act too quickly and it comes back to sting us in the butt," he said.
But time restraints required the commission to act immediately, Harris said. With the state's upcoming biennium budget due in June, OSU could sell the properties within the next two or three months, he said. The two cottages are believed to have been built in 1936 and 1942.
Some Clintonville residents who attended Thursday's meeting knew Urban while she lived in the neighborhood. Others came out to voice opinions or support for preservation of the properties.
Resident Keith Bossard pointed out OSU's Donor Bill of Rights, which says donors can "be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given."
"Clearly they are not doing that," he said.
Some people expressed skepticism about OSU's claimed inability to pay upkeep on the large cottage. Urban's will calls for her former home to be maintained with rent from the smaller structure, which is occupied by Help-U-Sell Real Estate.
Vito Boscaino, owner of Help-U-Sell, said he did not believe building upkeep to be as costly as university officials claim.
"They've done very, very little... basically nothing at all to maintain these properties," he said of OSU. "So I don't understand how they can say it's loss generating because I don't see that being the case at all."
Several residents in attendance were OSU graduates, including alumnus, Bob Armstrong, who said hitting the university in the wallet would bring it to the table.
"I think what we need to do is get the Clintonville people together and say, 'We will not give any more money to The Ohio State University,'" Armstrong said. "We'll give it to Ohio Wesleyan, or Otterbein or even to Michigan - but not to Ohio State. Believe me, they will listen."
Travis Minnear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.