Thursday, September 26, 2002

West Chester barn will be preserved

But future of schoolhouse is in question

By Jennifer Edwards,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The township will spend $2.4 million to preserve a barn, but a schoolhouse that is more than 120 years old is closer to the wrecking ball.

        Trustees on Tuesday agreed to pay consultants $59,300 to begin work on the Muhlhauser Barn, which will be moved from Fairfield to Beckett Park.

        The 121-year-old structure will be renovated into a community conference center that should support itself eventually with rent revenues from groups and corporations, trustees said.

[photo] The schoolhouse at Cox and Tylersville roads
(Enquirer file photo)
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        The cost of the project is $2.4 million; the Muhlhauser family has pledged $40,000 to move the building for the township.

        The Muhlhauser Barn on Seward Road in Fairfield was built for the Muhlhauser-Windisch Brewing Co., one of the region's oldest breweries.

        The property's owners are donating it to the township to make way for development.

        To pay for the project, Trustees Jose Alvarez and Dave Tacosik agreed Tuesday to investigate borrowing the money and paying it back using property tax revenues from a tax increment-financing district in either the Union Centre or Ohio 747 areas.

        “I hate to lose the barn since we've come this far,” Mr. Tacosik said.

        Meanwhile, the schoolhouse at Cox and Tylersville roads won't be preserved unless the county agrees to move it and pave a road into the Voice of America Park off Cox Road.

        County officials and commissioners say they don't have enough money to pave the road now because of cost overruns on the Cox Road widening.

        If it comes down to a choice between the two,

        trustees instructed Township Administrator Dave Gully to make sure the road is paved. If that means the school is demolished, so be it, they said.

        The road is crucial, they said, for more aesthetically pleasing access into VOA as development booms along Cox Road, which is being widened from two to five lanes.

        “We need to finish Cox Road,” Mr. Alvarez said. “We can't dilly-dally with this house any further.”

        The total cost of moving the schoolhouse and paving the road will run about $250,000. County officials said Wednesday they still plan to move the schoolhouse and eventually will pave the road. They just aren't sure yet when they will be able to afford paving the road or if it will be before they move the schoolhouse, County Administrator Derek Conklin said.

        Mr. Gully said the schoolhouse must be moved over a paved surface, because a rough dirt road would damage the historic structure during the move. Mr. Conklin, however, says the company moving the schoolhouse has told county officials it can be safely moved over a dirt path.

        “We're trying to coordinate all that with the township to do what they want us to do,” he said.

        But County Commissioner Mike Fox maintains it's not up to the township to tell the county what to do.

        “That's not their decision to be made. We're going to move that damn schoolhouse over to the park,” Mr. Fox said. “One thing is clear: We are committed to saving the schoolhouse. It's an important piece of history in that area.”

       File photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer


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