TWINSBURG — Council is considering transferring ownership of the Moses Church house — which houses the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce and could require as much as $280,000 in structural repairs — to the Twinsburg Historical Society.
Legislation to do that was introduced at Council’s Dec. 11 meeting.
The city-owned house on the west side of Twinsburg Township Square on Church Street sits beside the First Congregational Church, and was reportedly built for Moses Church in 1873. It has been the home of Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce offices for several years. The Chamber would remain in the house, at least for the immediate future, according to historical society officials.
The ordinance Council is mulling states, "It has been determined it is an important property within the city, and Council has a strong desire to ensure it remains intact."
The ordinance further states the transfer of ownership would be made for "a nominal amount" conditioned upon structural repairs and updates being completed prior to transfer, and a deed restriction allowing for the reversion back to the city should the historical society disband or fail to continue maintenance of the property.
Twinsburg Historical Society President Andy Tomko said some details still have to be worked out, but the society is excited to get the opportunity to own the house.
"We want to restore it to its original beauty," said Tomko. "If Council approves the deal, we hope to begin repairs after the winter season. We’re planning some fundraising activities to help with the cost of repairs."
Tomko said the society is grateful for the help of five people who devised a plan for repairs: Jim Mirgliotta of Forest City Erectors, former Mayor Jim Karabec, Jim Turle of Turle Construction, Rich Bissell of Bissell Excavating and Dennis Steigerwald.
The historical society maintains four properties currently, two of which it owns and two of which the city owns.
"We’ve spent a lot of money on those properties, and plan to spend more to get the Church house up to code," said Tomko. "One of the first tasks we hope to accomplish once the deal is finalized is getting the house on the National Registry of Historic Places."
As for the Chamber of Commerce offices, Tomko said the society wants to see the organization stay in the house for now, but talks are planned for future digs for the business organization.
"We thank the historical society for working with the city on this transfer," said Mayor Ted Yates. "A lot of work and expense will go into efforts so the society can maintain the house."
"We hope the public will support the society’s efforts to raise funds to fix up the house," said Law Director David Maistros.
"I appreciate what the society does for the community in preserving the city’s heritage, and I’m sure there will be unanimous support for this deal," said Councilman Bill Furey.
Councilman Brian Steele added, "I’m glad to see the Chamber house saved."
According to Yates, a report compiled earlier this year by Construction Resources Inc. indicated the house has several structural problems, causing safety concerns.
"There are some serious problems with the foundation," Yates told the Bulletin in September. "There are cracks between the stones, and shifting walls have resulted in cabinets pulling away on the inside."
Yates said the consultant estimates up to $280,000 might be needed to fully upgrade the structure, but Tomko believes the historical society can improve its condition for much less than that.
Furey said at a previous Council session that he favored the city "off-loading" the house, calling it "a burden on the city" and saying he didn’t favor the city putting a lot of money into it.
The Chamber has been using the house rent-free for the last several years. Prior to that, the city collected rent. Furey said the city had the house appraised at $220,000 about 10 years ago. The Chamber moved into the house in 1999 after the city bought it a year earlier.
The Chamber moved its offices elsewhere for a short time, but returned in 2013. Yates said the city has spent money over the years for maintenance on the house, including repainting the exterior.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.