Council approves sale of Armory; adds $35K to parks and rec budget

By Jane Beathard

April 19, 2014

London’s historic Armory at 15 E. Second St. will soon be home to Mandy’s Day Care, following action by city council on Thursday, April 17.

Council members approved a 10-year land contract to sell the 84-year-old former military installation to Henry and Mandy Comer for $66,000. The Comers own Mandy’s Day Care, now located at 55 S. Oak St.

Under terms of the land contract, the Comers will pay 4 percent annual interest and assume responsibility for taxes and insurance. Title will transfer on April 1, 2024.

The sale amount includes all exercise and sports equipment in the building. The city’s rental agreement with a low-frequency radio station in The Armory transfers to the Comers.

Thursday’s vote ended months of wrangling between the city and prospective buyers.

Comer said a larger facility will allow his business to expand and serve more preschool age children in the area.

London purchased The Armory in 1998 from the Ohio National Guard, intending to transform it into a community center. State grants and other funding paid for more than $200,000 in improvements over the years. Stipulations tied to some of those grants require repayment.

Madison County auditor’s records set market value of the building at $323,730.

Also on Thursday, council added $35,000 to the parks and recreation budget for 2014, following a lengthy debate and split vote. The resolution designates $12,500 for personnel and $22,500 for operations.

Members Steve Scaggs and Jason Schwaderer voted against the measure. Rodney Lauer, Trint Hatt, Rex Castle, Dick Minner and Roger Morris approved.

Scaggs and Schwaderer said they could not justify spending more for recreation in a year when city employees did not receive raises. Schwaderer said the increase will make future union negotiations more difficult.

“A fact-finder will see that (expenditure) and say the city has money (for raises),” Schwaderer said.

Lauer sponsored the resolution and presented figures showing additional money spent on recreation will lead to increased revenue for the city. Last winter’s basketball leagues generated about $10,000 in profit for the general fund, he said.

Minner noted London now spends less on recreation than 20 years ago.

“Compared to the whole budget, it (recreation) is a little amount,” he said.

Safety-services director Steve Hume urged council to approve the resolution. He said “quality of life” issues like parks and recreation are important to companies looking to locate in London.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.