Bridges of Hope gets another extension

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Simon Kenton Bridges of Hope, the group hoping to turn the former elementary school building into a community ministry hub, has been given what appears to be one last chance to see its project come to fruition.

City Council Thursday approved an amended memorandum of understanding with SKBOH beginning July 1 and expiring Dec. 31 by a 5-1 vote.

The group had been operating on an MOU with several financial benchmarks that if unmet would render the agreement null and void. The first benchmark occurs June 30 when SKBOH must have $50,000 toward the project. According to city documents, Executive Director Michael Deis met with city staff and said it would not meet that goal, giving the city the right to back out or amend the current agreement.

Under the amended agreement, Bridges of Hope assumes all associated private utility costs and agrees to meet its originally stated fundraising goal of $150,000 by the end of 2016. The city still maintains the right to sell the building or enter into an MOU with another private or public entity.

The majority of council felt by SKBOH paying utilities it relieves the city of financial risk.

Council President Mike Engle called it an extension for the “final time.”

In casting the lone no vote, Dale Louderback said he has to consider the taxpayers.

“They missed their goal by $38,000 (and) we keep giving them extensions,” he said “They haven’t upheld their ends of the MOUs to date.”

Despite not meeting the fundraising goal, SKBOH has about $20,000 cash on hand to cover the remainder of the year’s expenses, according to City Manager Brent Merriman.

The plan — first broached more than a year ago — is to use the city-owned vacant building on West Second Street as a place to facilitate organizations serving community needs including those of homelessness, addiction and poverty. The multi-phased project will require at least $1 million to get the building up and running, according Deis, and a yearly operating budget of approximately $152,000.

The building needs a new HVAC system, a fire suppression system, plumbing repair and upgrades and roof repair and/or replacement, according to Deis.

In January, SKBOH identified sources of potential funding and completed grant applications with several foundations. Deis and also told council that a total of six corporations, with whom he has connections, have pledged support.

As part of the amended MOU, SKBOH is responsible for maintaining the landscaping and will ensure that all safety standards are met and maintained for occupancy as well as fire safety an building upkeep. The city reserves the right to access and inspect the building at any time.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.