Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
By William Kincaid
Celina to buy trailer park, other property
  CELINA - The city intends to acquire Mercelina Mobile Court and the former Versa Pak property, with assistance of the Bryson Trust Fund, for an estimated $2.9 million.
The properties near Lake Shore Drive would be used to expand the city's lakefront parks. The Bryson Trust Fund would pay 90 percent of the transaction, with the city paying $300,000 from its general fund.
A special council meeting to vote on legislation authorizing the purchases will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday on the second floor of the city administration building.
After an executive session Monday night, city councilman Bill Sell recommended acquiring the properties to expand the city's parks.
All council members except Ed Jeffries and Jeff Larmore voted in favor of Sell's recommendation. Larmore abstained from the vote due to past involvement with the mobile home park; Jeffries told the newspaper that he stated his opinion to Mayor Jeff Hazel weeks ago and his mind hasn't changed. He would not elaborate.
"The Mercelina (Mobile Court Company) and the trustees, they have been talking with the city over the last several months," Hazel said. "They are wanting to close the Mercelina trailer park in 2014, and so they've been working with the city, and it was always the desire of Ed Bryson and the elder Ed Brandts (original owner of the park) that it would eventually become a park and so that's how we were involved with it."
The agreement would come with a deed restriction preventing the property to be used for anything other than parkland.
Additionally, the city intends to purchase the former Versa Pak building on South Ash Street owned by John Larbus of Findlay.
"It is being vacated and the city will be purchasing that ground from him as well," Hazel said. "Part of the contract with him is he's removing the entire building down to below the ground level because it has a basement in it."
The city, Hazel said, has no use for the building.
The entire purchase involves about 8 acres, and the city would acquire the grounds in about a year if all goes as planned, Hazel added.
The Mercelina Mobile Court Company consists of 13 trustees, including Jerry and Verdice Brandts.
"As a result of aging and health issues, in addition to the burden of operating the trailer park, the Brandts family, including Jerry and Verdice Brandts, and current stockholders, are announcing that they believe the time has come to retire from their roles as landlords, and that during 2014, the Mercelina Mobile Court will be closed," states a press released issued this morning on behalf of the company and city.
The Bryson Trust Fund, managed and controlled by First Financial Bank Vice President and Trust Officer Collin Bryan and Mercer County Probate Court Judge Mary Pat Zitter, was bequeathed by Ed L. Bryson, a prominent city attorney, upon his death on Jan. 11, 1950.
According to court documents, Bryson wanted money used for recreation areas.
"In keeping with the late Ed Bryson's charitable philosophy, the Brandts family and current stockholders believe that Mr. Bryson would have liked to see all of their Lake Shore property become a city park upon the cessation of their family business," the press release states.
The Mercelina Mobile Court property will be used to expand and enhance the Lake Shore Park region by connecting Mercelina Park and Pullman Bay Park.
The 50 tenants of the mobile park have at least 120 days to vacate after receipt of written notification, according to Ohio Revised Code.
They were notified in a letter by local attorney Louis J. Schiavone about the authorization of the sale.
"A formal notice to vacate will be provided to you subsequent to the execution of the real estate purchase contract by all necessary parties," Schiavone wrote. "Meanwhile, this preliminary notice is being provided to you in order that you may begin the process of making arrangements to relocate your mobile home from the park."
Removal of mobile homes from the park requires a relocation permit and implementation by an insured and licensed contractor, Schiavone wrote.
The city has had its sights set on the former Versa Pak building for years. In 2009, Larbus rejected the city's offer of $275,000. The city had threatened to take the property through eminent domain.
Larbus housed Skylink Regional Training Center in the building, where more than 300 technicians were trained for DirectTV Home Services. It also was used by area law enforcement agencies to train personnel. Larbus could not be reached this morning to discuss the deal.
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