September 18, 2003
of Grinnell Mill still unclear
Frustrated by what he
termed a communication breakdown by Antioch University, Jim Hammond, the
local resident trying to buy Grinnell Mill, finally gave up his efforts
last week to reach an agreement.
Hammond sent word through
David Neuhardt, a lawyer and president of the Yellow Springs Historical
Society, to the university on Monday that he would not participate directly
in a deal.
bad because the mill has to suffer,” Hammond said last week. “If
someone else wants to do it, they’re welcome to all my research and
my permits and architectural drawings.”
Miami Township Fire Chief
Colin Altman gave Antioch a 30-day extension last week to formulate a workable
plan for the mill, which was designated a fire and safety hazard at the
beginning of the summer.
The original three-month
deadline the Fire Department gave Antioch passed on Friday, Sept. 5, and
the university applied for the extension the following Tuesday, Assistant
Fire Chief Hope Robbins said.
Antioch was able to demonstrate
that negotiations with Hammond were ongoing at the time the extension was
But now that talks have
fallen through, the university has slim hopes of another offer coming to
the forefront, Glenn Watts, the Antioch University vice chancellor and CFO,
to trying to see if there is some miracle we can pull out of a hat, but
it’s not looking real good at the moment,” he said.
The most recent offer
the university had submitted to Hammond two weeks ago included a 90-year
lease and allowed Hammond to decide how much the ground lease and the price
of the mill was worth, Watts said.
But Hammond claimed the
offer was “bogus” because Antioch had already retracted several
of its own offers to sell the mill at prices ranging from thousands of dollars
to $1, with a land lease for varying lengths of time. He said this same
pattern of misrepresentation has been happening since the first time the
two parties tried to engage in discussions in the spring of 2002.
According to Hammond,
communication with Antioch has been very slow, and the university’s
written offers often do not reflect the verbal agreements made during discussions
between the two parties. The money is not an issue, Hammond said, but trust
to deal with these guys in the future, and if I can’t get them on
the phone, then how am I going to do business with them?” he said
As a result of the assurances
he received at the initial meeting over a year ago, Hammond said he spent
a lot of time and over $3,000 preparing to begin work on the mill. He completed
a land survey, secured permits from the Greene County health department
for the septic system and commissioned architectural drawings for the project.
He had planned to make the mill into a residence.
But according to Hammond,
when Antioch’s offer came back to him in writing eight months later,
the lease agreement was not what the parties had agreed to. They regrouped,
met again and made another verbal agreement, which, according to Hammond,
again contained different parameters when it came back in writing.
Watts defended Antioch’s
offers, saying the university’s attorneys were present at the parties’
last meeting and that they put together an agreement that reflected the
conversation as they saw it.
The only change Antioch
made was to amend the price of the mill from $1 to $1,000, or something
of value for tax purposes, he said.
He also justified raising
the price on the mill, saying that the Glen Helen Ecology Institute wanted
to be compensated for the lost value of the land if it is sold or leased.
“We see there’s
value in this property even if it had no housing unit on it because the
Glen is interested in preserving the nature of the Glen,” Watts said.
He also said that the
process had been arduous and that Antioch has spent more time and money
than it had originally intended to, in order to try and reach an agreement.
Neuhardt said that he
has one more idea to help save the mill from destruction. He would not disclose
the plan just yet, but said that the Historical Society should have a better
idea of its viability sometime soon.
In the meantime, Antioch
has until the end of September to make something happen before orders to
raze the mill are enforced.