November 22, 2014

Medina
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Domestic Relations Court options open up

MEDINA TWP. — About a year ago, it looked like there was nowhere to house the Domestic Relations Court’s supervised visitation program. Now county officials may have their pick.

The program could remain at its Remsen Road location since the Medina County Schools Educational Service Center no longer plans to buy the building, or it could move to the Medina County YWCA site at 4046 Medina Road. Once it closes in May, the YWCA will give its building to the county.

Medina County may be selling the Remsen Building and moving the Domestic Relations Court’s family visitation program to larger quarters. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

Medina County may be selling the Remsen Building and moving the Domestic Relations Court’s family visitation program to larger quarters. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

“I think we have to look at all of our options and determine what is the most cost-effective route to go with this,” County Commissioner Pat Geissman said. “We really appreciate the YWCA thinking of the county.”

County Commissioner Steve Hambley said it might be more feasible for the court to move its program to the YWCA building.

“It seems to make some sense to locate an entity with some family programming there,” he said.

That would allow the county to put its building at Remsen and Myers roads up for sale through a bidding process, saving the approximately $110,000 a year it costs to maintain the 40,000-square-foot facility.

Domestic Relations Judge Mary R. Kovack said she doesn’t have a preference between the two buildings.

“It’s apples and oranges. I really don’t want to upset the apple cart and move the program. On the other hand, this is a very generous effort on the part of the YWCA and it does give us future potential,” she said.

She pointed out the move to the YWCA would cost about $50,000, for which the county would have to pay.

Kovack started the visitation program in 2004 as a safe exchange and supervised parenting time for families at risk in divorce and domestic violence cases.

History

The county-owned building at Remsen and Myers roads, where the supervised visitation program operates, has been seeing tenants trickle out. The county’s ADAMH board left in 2009. The YMCA left last summer. Medina County Transit is expected to leave this fall when its new center in Lafayette Township opens.

Only the visitation program will remain, which means the county will lose money on the building.

County Administrator Chris Jakab said the county spends an average of $110,000 annually on maintenance, upkeep and utilities.

He said the only rent the county receives is about $15,000 a year from the Domestic Relations Court.

The Medina County Schools ESC started talks to buy the building so it could move all its offices there and hold its preschool on site.

The agency and the county eventually worked out a deal for the ESC to buy the building for $50,000, but that has fallen through because of proposed state budget cuts and renovation costs, which ESC Superintendent Will Koran estimated at $80,000.

County commissioners were expected to approve the sale, even though the building is estimated to be worth $3.5 million, because it was losing money to operate it.

It also originally received the building at no cost — a gift from the Society for Handicapped Citizens of Medina County.

If the county did sell to the ESC, the Domestic Relations Court’s program would have no place to go, so Kovack ordered it not be sold until the county first found a place for the visitation program.

YWCA

The Medina County YWCA will close at the end of May and will give its building to the county. The organization specified it should go to the visitation program.

“The timing was right to donate the building for this program which benefits women and children.

“The YWCA is about women and children. So the match was good. With the slow real estate market, we felt this was a win-win opportunity for both parties,” YWCA board President Nancy Mattey said in a statement this week.

Geissman said the county was happy to receive the building for the program.

“We’re just really very tickled because it’s a real nice building,” she said.

However, she said estimates need to be made to see whether it makes sense financially for the county to move the Domestic Relations Court’s program into the YWCA building now. She said it will cost upwards of $50,000 to move the program and to make some alterations to the YWCA building.

If the program doesn’t move, the YWCA building could be leased to another organization. She said she’s already heard a school for autistic children may be interested in leasing it.

Geissman said there are no legal restrictions on how the building should be used, and Heller said the court wouldn’t have to move there immediately.

“I don’t think that really changes our situation,” she said.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.