Delaware County Commissioners approved a contract to purchase the Delaware Area Career Center North Campus for $1.7 million.
Commissioner Jeff Benton said he thought acquiring the property located at 1610 State Route 521 in Brown Township was “a really good transaction for everyone involved.”
“It is an unique property and that’s one of the win-win out of this,” he said. “The career center gets to sell it and the taxpayers of Delaware County get to continue to use it.”
Benton said many of the county services are “in scattered buildings all around.” He said he could see many advantages of departments and offices being housed in a single building.
“It will be significantly cheaper to operate one building versus six smaller ones or however many we end up transitioning,” he said. “I think it will really enable us to provide better customer service to the residents and businesses of Delaware County because they will have a one-stop shop.”
The property will allow for growth in the future “which is very important in our fast-growing community,” Benton said. “It’s a good move forward.”
Commissioner Gary Merrell said about 18 months ago the board asked Facilities Director Jon Melvin to research the property as a possibility for the county.
“This is a project that I think will really benefit our county in a lot of ways,” Merrell said. “As the county is growing we obviously have needs that we have to identify and we want to do it fiscally responsible. The availability of this particular building at that particular time made that possible. … I think we’ll be able to get rid of some other structures that we own and return them to the taxpayers in the sense that we’ll get taxes off of them.”
Merrell said the property opens up the potential of moving the county engineer’s office from its current location at 50 Channing Street. He said the Channing Street property will “require considerable work at some point,” he said. “I’ve heard the county engineer talk about the heavy trucks in a residential area.”
Merrell said the building is solid, but will require renovation work.
The property is “a perfect fit for the county” and “it makes a whole lot of sense,” said Commissioner Barb Lewis. “It’s a good fit for us, but for most other people it wouldn’t work.”
In 2016, the DACC Board of Education approved a plan to consolidate all of its programs on one campus. The DACC plans to expand the south campus by adding a new wing and other spaces to support all the north campus programs. Officials said at the time that the consolidated campus will give all students access to more support services and reduce bus costs. Construction began on the $45 million project last year.
DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman said she saw the county’s purchase of the property as a win-win, much like Benton.
“It’s a true win-win for DACC and Delaware County,” she said. “The property will remain an asset to our community and the taxpayer.”
(Gazette reporter Glenn Battishill also contributed to this article.)
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.