Ideas for the future of the David L. Brown Youth Center located in the former Miami County Children’s Home were discussed Nov. 12 by the county commissioners and leaders from Juvenile Court, which operates the program for teen boys.
Commission President Jack Evans explained the discussion was sparked in part by growing costs and a recent compilation of projects that need to be done at the facility located off Children’s Home Road in Elizabeth Township east of Troy.
“We are here to talk about ideas,” Evans said.
Meeting with commissioners were Judge Greg Dixon of Juvenile/Probate Court, Diana Karnehm, David L. Brown director, and Andrew Wannemacher, the court administrator.
A forecast of facility projects showed costs ranging from $161,000 if the minimum repairs needed were done to nearly $500,000 if items listed were replaced.
“Obviously, that’s a lot of money,” Evans said, adding the numbers do not include work possibly needed to the property’s water well.
Leigh Williams, the commissioners’ administrator, said the farm fund, comprised of income from cash renting of farm property, does not generate enough to do the minimum that needs attention.
The commissioners met earlier this year with the Elizabeth Township trustees to talk about the fate of a bank barn on the property. They also obtained a legal opinion on the property deed, which requires the county to turn the property over to the township if it is no longer used for something related to children.
The commissioners said they have not discussed options since with the trustees.
The youth center property was donated to the county commissioners in 1877 by brothers John K. and Jacob Knoop for use as a children’s home.
The home was closed in the 1970s, then reopened by the state as the Western Ohio Youth Center in the early 1980s. After that facility closed in 1984, the 1932 building was renovated before reopening in 1987 as a county youth center. The name was changed in 1994 in memory of a former director.
The 15-bed residential facility is licensed by the state and operated by the county Juvenile Court for males ages 12-18. The court uses some of the beds for its juveniles and contracts with other counties to place teens in center beds.
Commissioner Richard Cultice said the facility is the issue. “The question is can these programs be conducted at another location, more suitable, more cost effective? That’s what we need to look at,” he said.
Court personnel said the center’s rural setting is advantageous for some programming, but the facility also imposes limits.
“We are not tied to the building,” Wannemacher said. A different building possibly would allow for changes in programming to do more with drug rehabilitation and other programs for which funding could be available, he and Karnehm said.
“If these issues (on the list by Johnson) are not addressed, the building is going to fall down around us … My preference would be that location with a different building,” Karnehm said.
The commissioners said the county does not have a building available for program relocation.
Dixon said the court personnel would look at program revenues and other issues and talk again with commissioners.
“If your purpose is to feed us food for thought, you have done so,” he said.
In response to questions about how much other counties are using the center programs, Wannemacher said a look at the past five years showed 55 boys referred from Miami County and 45 from other counties.
Project Identified at David L. Brown Youth Center Property
- Roof repairs/replacement
- Old red barn demo only versus demo and replace
- Heat system mechanicals replacement
- HVAC system update to add air conditioning
- Window replacements
- Front step concrete repairs
- Masonry repairs and/or full chemical cleaning/tuck pointing/water sealing
- Gravel and paving repairs
- Fire protection improvements/modernization
- Barn repairs vs. full metal siding restoration
- Water issues
- Three phase power conversion for pump house to single phase
- Unknown issues to property, septic system, facility