On Kroger, our Seniors and the Mulhauser Barn
Sometimes when it comes to change, its tough – but it can also be an opportunity. Our Township has some changes coming to it on the Cox Road and Tylersville Road corner. The Big Lots development is getting a major overhaul which started this week and the shopping center owned by Regency on the opposite corner is looking to redevelop.
The Kroger on Cox Road started in the building that was the Big Lots in the 1970s. In the 90’s they moved across the street into the Regency Plaza where it currently is today.
The piece of property that we are considering was originally the West Chester Library, it was built in the 1980s and was used until we built the new library a decade ago.
After it closed, the old library was leased to an organization out of Hamilton called Community First. It was leased for 10 years, a $1 per year. The agreement stated that Community First was taking full responsibility for the building, all upkeep, and maintenance. The center was going to be a community space that would serve small groups, girl scouts/boy scouts and our symphony practiced there, and the area would be rented out for parties and events to help offset expenses.
Community First’s plan was to also to provide services to our senior community. They provided exercise through Silver Sneakers and chair volleyball and social activities like cards and games. This was a social outlet for many of our seniors.
As Community First reached the end of the 10-year lease, late last year, they began to pull back on services to our seniors.
As West Chester assessed the situation with the building and the services we realized we had a twofold problem – a large building that needed a great deal of work, our old library and a group of people that were going to lose the place they were going to meet.
The Board of Trustees decided that we were going to sell the building, the old library. It was a diminishing asset, it needs a new roof, new HVAC, new parking lot. It has a lot of problems. And after we put out the request for proposals, we found we had a willing buyer, Regency.
Selling the old library to Regency is a good business decision for the Township. The library has served its purpose, now it will be part of the next phase of West Chester’s development on the Cox/Tylersville corridor. Kroger wants to expand. There is land to the east of this store and we do not want them to move locations like they did on 747 and leave another empty box store. Regency and Kroger want to stay on that corner and invest in our community for a third time.
That leaves us with the problem of where to put our seniors. We have many senior services provided by our Township – RASKELS, our senior van, but we also have the services that had been provided by Community First. Our seniors have come to count on having a place to meet and stay healthy.
We have been working on a location for the seniors for several months. We have found homes for many of the activities, but with the sale of the old library comes opportunity.
I propose we use some of the proceeds from the sale of the building to work on making Mulhauser barn a more suitable meeting space that can be accessible to our seniors.
Mulhauser Barn is a community asset that is performing well. It currently is operated as an event venue in the evenings, but during the day, isn’t used. The barn was constructed using Federal money, so the barn will be an asset within our Township Parks system forever. Let’s use this change to our benefit. Let's use the money for the sale of one of our assets to benefit all in the community and give our seniors a place to meet.
The barn has a huge unfinished basement. When the barn was built it was in 2006 the intention was to finish it. It has a place for windows and a large door. It is a great space.
Let’s use change to our advantage and make something wonderful happen.