The former Simonds Industrial manufacturing complex on Heller Drive in Newcomerstown has remained vacant for more than a decade and has been targeted by the village for demolition. (Photo by Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV)
Newcomerstown, Ohio - A plan to tear down a decaying Newcomerstown landmark and repurpose its 36 acres of property for public purposes can now begin moving forward.
On Tuesday, Newcomerstown Solicitor Robert Stephenson informed council members that the village would be assuming ownership of the former Simonds Industrial property at 641 Heller Drive.
Mayor Pat Cadle says the property had been the backbone of the local community for many years but began to fall into disrepair beginning in the late 80s and early 90s.
“The EPA came in and had to do a big cleanup on the grounds. They had some retention ponds that were bad,” he explains. “It started going downhill in the late 80s or early 90s, and by the mid-2000s, it had shut down.”
The facility closed its doors in 2007 and was acquired the following year by its most recent owner, 641 Heller Drive LLC of Fairlawn.
Cadle says the village had been working for the last several years to secure ownership of the property, without much cooperation from the owner.
“When I got into office that was one of the things the community had mentioned because the building had gone into really bad disrepair. In fact, it had caught fire several years ago, and three of the buildings were burnt to the ground in the back,” he says.
In order for the village to move forward with the acquisition, Cadle says the property had to first be condemned by the health department and the fire marshal and then placed up for sale in two sheriff’s auctions for delinquent taxes.
The company owns a total of seven properties in Newcomerstown and owed more than $144,000 in back taxes property taxes as of this year, according to records from the Tuscarawas County Auditor’s Office.
With no bids received during either sale, the village filed a claim of ownership for the property that was approved this week by the county.
Cadle says the plan is to tear down the former manufacturing facility and repurpose the land for community use.
“The first goal was to get the property. The second, now, is to level it and get rid of everything. The third is, ‘Ok, how do we utilize it?’” he says.
Cadle says the village has been weighing an assortment of potential uses that include converting a portion of the property into a housing development, creating a recreational area and constructing a parking lot for the village’s baseball fields. He notes that the village is also open to additional suggestions from the community.
“We have a lot of good ideas, and we’re willing to listen to the public if they have more good ideas for what we can use that land for,” he says.
Cadle notes that at this point the process is still in the beginning phases. He says once the paperwork has been completed, the village will begin securing the property and working toward demolition. He notes that the village has already been in contact with the Tuscarawas County Economic Development and Financing Authority (EDFA), and the agency has agreed to assist with the project.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV