XENIA — Bridges of Hope won the right to negotiate ownership of the vacant Simon Kenton Elementary School building during a special session of Xenia City Council April 27.
In a 3-2 vote with two abstentions, council went against the staff recommendation and awarded the right to the faith-based group over the staff-favored Community Action Partnership based in Dayton. 4 the Kids, LLC also submitted a formal proposal to the city.
The decision somewhat brings to a close two years of work by Bridges of Hope to obtain the building to open up a hub of services aimed at fighting drug addiction, homelessness and poverty. Bridges of Hope will negotiate a building takeover plan with City Manager Brent Merriman. The transfer of property must still be approved by city council via ordinance, which requires four affirmative votes.
“Wow,” said Bridges of Hope president and local pastor Dan Jordan. “This is just great. Great for our community. It’s what our community needs. It offers hope. Not just dollars.”
Bridges of Hope — which offered $25,000 cash for the building — had been using the building under memorandum of understanding that had been extended several times while the group tried to secure funding. The final version of the MOU required BOH to raise various amounts of money by certain intervals to continue use of the building. The final extension expired at the end of 2016 and council did not extend it again.
In the interim, council received a proposal from CAP and decided to open the bidding to the public.
CAP’s intention was to use the building as emergency housing, transitional housing and as an overflow shelter from other similar Greene County facilities. It also planned on using acreage on the East Second Street property for permanent supportive housing, which provides services for homeless people with disabilities. CAP’s proposal did not include any payment for the building.
4 the Kids, which operates as a services provider of residential education and workforce/vocational training and development program for older foster care youth, offered $81,500.
According to documents, city staff favored CAP because it has and is eligible to receive more state and federal funding, is financially healthy and has existed for more than 50 years. The only negatives cited by the city were the lack of cash offer and the desire for five acres in addition to the building and parking lot.
Staff felt BOH had the most vested interest in the City of Xenia, and liked the cash offer in addition to using recently donated money to contract with Homefull to develop a management plan for operating a non-profit homeless center. It cited cons such as lack of an appreciable revenue stream, lack of capital funds to make needed initial improvements to the building, and a timeline that doesn’t show it being fully operational until late 2018.
While 4 the Kids, LLC had the highest cash offer and would have 15 full- and part-time employees on staff with one to three years, staff said it’s a new organization with no demonstrated financial health and the plan did not address the homelessness and emergency shelter needs in Xenia and Greene County.
Mayor Marsha Bayless and Dale Louderback, who each sit on a board affiliated with CAP, recused themselves from voting.
Wes Smith, Sarah Mays and Edgar Wallace voted in favor of BOH, while Mike Engle and Jeanne Mills voted no.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.