Posted on 19 March 2015.
Photo by Len Allington
By Judy Reed
The Solon Township board voted 4-1 on Tuesday, March 10, to remove the old horse barn, referred to as the Stout barn, which sits behind the Township Hall, at 15185 Algoma Avenue.
Board member John Rideout made the motion to authorize and direct the Supervisor to facilitate removal of the barn, by the most economical means possible.
The barn has been a bone of contention since the Township bought the property. They originally investigated putting money into it for the new township hall, but decided to build after finding out what needed to be done.
The barn has been used for the flea market portion of the Solon farmer and flea market in the past, and this past winter was used for storage of RVs.
In 2012, Solon appointed five residents to the Solon Parks Committee, to create a master plan for the location. According to Len Allington, a member of the committee and vocal proponent of keeping the barn, the committee’s view is that “If it was sitting on anyone else’s property, it would be worth $100,000,” he said. “Their view (the board’s) is that it isn’t worth anything and they’d do anything to get rid of it.”
A survey done by the committee received 140 responses on what they would like to see in the property. 94 said they would like committee to look at potential uses for the buildings and the long term cost, and 49 said they wanted the buildings to stay and be restored and utilized.
The roof of the barn was damaged in the straight line winds that whipped through the area last April. The insurance paid them $16,000, but would pay out another $27,500 if they replaced it.
Allington said there are people that are interested in using it. He said that they could continue to use it for storage for boats and RVs without any code upgrade. He also thinks they can get the roof repaired for the amount of the insurance payout. However, he said if code upgrades are made, along with the roof being repaired, they could use the barn for other things such as indoor farmers market on bad weather days; a group has shown interest in using the barn as a site for canine agility performances, clinics and seminars; another for 4H events; an indoor archery range, indoor golf driving range, and more.
Solon Supervisor Bob Ellick was the lone no vote. But the no vote doesn’t mean he is against it. “I didn’t know the motion was coming, and I wasn’t ready to vote on it that night,” explained Ellick. “Something needs to be done with it—it needs hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work done,” he said. “Even if gets remodeled, it’s in the wrong place. I fought that when the Township Hall was going to be built; I thought it should’ve been in a different spot. But I can’t change it. I’m not horribly opposed to the board’s decision,” he explained.
Right now he is looking at public auction to sell the barn. However, if the committee’s contractor comes through with a bid to fix the roof, they will listen to it, he said. Ellick thinks restoring the barn could cost up to $500,000. “I don’t think the majority of the people would be enthused about us putting public money into it,” he noted.
Ellick thinks they could be build something smaller, lower to the ground, more economical, and more energy efficient for the same price. He said he would probably have some more ideas on the public auction by the next meeting.