Is the waterworks building washed up?
City officials want public input on whether to renovate or raze Oberlin’s original water plant, known as the Waterworks of Oberlin. The boarded-up brick building at 205 Morgan St. is by the Morgan Street Reservoir and Oberlin College Arboretum, an area frequented by hikers.
Built in 1893, the one-and-a-half story building housed the plant’s then-state-of-the-art, lime-and-soda-ash treatment system. The building closed in 1962 when a new plant was built on Parsons Road.
The building was listed as an Oberlin landmark by the city in 1975 and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office lists the site as “significant” due to the plant’s history.
However, a preservation office inventory of the 30-by-76-foot building called the condition “deteriorated.”
The rear of the building burned in a 2011 fire. The front has a collapsed floor, according to public works director Jeff Baumann, who held a public meeting May 25 to discuss the building’s future.
The city received renovation bids of $680,000 and $710,oo0. The bid invitation calls for work to be “substantially completed” by Aug. 2.
Baumann said insurance would pay 60 percent of the renovation cost with Oberlin taxpayers covering the rest. Renovation options include converting the building to apartments or offices or into a recreational space.
Resident Scott Medwid, who moved to Morgan Street in 1995, favors demolition due to the building’s condition. He said renovation would be too costly.
“It’s going to be a nightmare construction-wise,” Medwid said. “It’s been neglected ever since we’ve been in town.”
However, resident Michele Norton supports preservation. Norton said the building could be used as a nature center, which would fit in well with the arboretum and reservoir. “Clean it up and open it up,” she said.
The meeting was also held to get feedback on a $385,000 road improvement project on Morgan Street from Cedar to Main streets.
The project — which includes resurfacing, new curbs, and road markings — is expected to begin in mid-July and be substantially competed by Sept. 8, said city engineer Randall Roberts.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune The Oberlin waterworks building at 199 Morgan St. is in “deteriorated” condition and could be torn down.