OC to sell industrial park tracts

In a bid to “get out of the landlord business” and put some industrial sites back on the tax rolls, Oil City Council voted Thursday to sell two parcels located in the city’s industrial park at Siverly.

“This is an excellent win for all entities,” said city manager Mark Schroyer. “It gets the city out of the landlord business.”

Potential buyers were required to submit bids for the properties. The successful bidders were SMS Technical Services, also known as SMS Millcraft, and McIntyre Landscaping.

SMS purchased a 15.44-acre parcel with 12 structures for $860,000 while McIntyre bought a 2.93-acre tract for $15,500. Both prices exceeded the appraisal figures, said Schroyer.

“The city still retains a chunk of property there,” said Schroyer. “And we could accommodate another developer or two.”

While the city will not realize all the purchase proceeds because of an existing $610,000 bond at the park that will be paid, the real estate deal will provide real estate tax income to the city, cut back on building repairs undertaken by the city, and allow for both businesses to expand, said Schroyer.

A little history

The former Oilwell Supply plant, originally home to the Imperial Refinery, manufactured equipment and tools for the global oil and gas industries. Oilwell, later owned by U.S. Steel, shifted its work in 1982 to Texas and closed.

The city of Oil City bought the 35-acre property in 1987 with the intent to lure new tenants and create jobs. One original tenant, the Imperial Mold division, remained at the location and changed its name to Acutus Mold in 1989.

The company was renamed UniMold in 2000 and then sold in 2002 to the Pittsburgh-based SMS Millcraft, maker of caster molds and mold plants.

In 2011, SMS Millcraft used about 130,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space in the industrial park, or about two-thirds of the remaining Oilwell buildings. It has continued to grow over the years.

New ordinance adopted

In other business Thursday, council gave its final approval to a nuisance abatement ordinance that focuses on abating “nuisance properties (that) present grave health, safety, welfare and financial concerns” to the public.

If owners do not take corrective action, the city has the authority to take measures that call for penalties, liens and demolition.

The new measure has a provision that allows the city to go pay for the work by holding a property owner personally responsible, a move that would permit the city to seize other assets in addition to the property.

Council adopted the ordinance in its original language despite a request by Kathy Bailey, manager of the city’s Main Street Program, to clarify what she termed was “ambiguous language.”

Bailey said there were concerns that nuisance “abatement … implies demolition” and said there are alternatives such as remodeling and renovating. At issue, she said, are historical buildings.

Schroyer told Bailey that the suggestions were reviewed by himself and city solicitor Robert Varsek, who said the original ordinance is “in conformance with state law” and recommended approval.

In other matters:

– Schroyer told council that he and other city officials met recently with the owners of the now empty IOOF building on Seneca Street.

“They submitted a list of improvements that will take place,” he said. “It’s a good game plan (and) …. we’ll see some improvement there over the next several weeks.”

– The Oil City PNA Club donated $5,000 toward the city’s new fire truck. Another $10,000 will be forthcoming later in the year, said Schroyer, who noted, “They’ve been very generous.”

– The Samuel Justus Charitable Trust contributed $40,000 to the city to complete work at the newly refurbished Mitchell Avenue playground. The funds will pay for new playground equipment and ground cover.

The grant was made through the Bridge Builders Community Foundation.

– Council approved the closing of the parking lot behind Grace United Methodist Church for an Aug. 13 children’s carnival. The annual event is sponsored by the church and is open free to parents and their elementary school age children.

– A change in street paving was approved by council. CDBG funds will be earmarked for the reconstruction of Orchard Street from Petroleum Street to Division Street.