To the editor:

I first contacted the city of Hillsboro on April 8, 2019 after hearing that the Jack Hope downtown properties were going to be condemned.

I had two meetings with mayor Hastings in his office on April 10 and April 17 to discuss the transfer of the Parker House property to the city. On April 18, the Times Gazette headline read: “Hastings: Parker House to be donated to the City of Hillsboro.”

On April 29, I met with the mayor for a third time and an actual agreement with six conditions was signed and notarized by myself and Hastings. The first condition says, “releasing you from any charges, fees or responsibility for the building or property that might arise after ownership has passed to the city.”

The second condition lists a small commission fee that the city would pay to the real estate company that had been handling the property transfer. This still has not been paid.

• Item No. 3 says, “The Parker House Hotel will be demolished by the city and will become a municipal parking lot.”

• Item No. 4 says the city will remove the historical sign on the front of the Parker House to give to the Hope family. This was never done, although I asked several times.

• Item No. 5 says, “Due to the precarious condition that the structure is currently in, we would like this transfer to occur as soon as possible.”

The last item divided the cost of surveys, titles and deeds between the Hope family and the city. Ultimately, all of the fees were paid by the Hope family – since the city stopped communicating with me.

I immediately started the process of getting surveys done on the property. On May 3, four days after our meeting and agreement, the mayor sent me a letter adding a deadline of May 30. I never acknowledged this deadline or agreed to it since it was not in our initial notarized agreement. However, I continued to follow the guidelines of the agreement in trying to complete everything “as soon as possible.”

I followed up with McCarty and Associates in Hillsboro to make sure the surveys were being completed as quickly as possible.

• On May 29, Tom Purtell told me that the surveys should be in the mayor’s office in the next few days, and that he had already talked to (former Hillsboro SSD) Mel McKenzie to let him know they were on the way.

Hastings called on June 3 to tell me I had missed his imaginary deadline, so I again called McCarty’s office. I was promised the surveys would be delivered before noon on June 4. Also, I was again told that McKenzie was aware that they were on the way. However, I called the mayor back to tell him this, and he seemed fine with it.

After the survey process, everything goes to “mapping.” Mapping wasn’t mentioned in our agreement as to who was responsible for it, but I went ahead and followed up on that, too.

• On June 10, I called the mayor’s office and left a message with his administrative assistant to talk to the mayor to check on the progress, hoping that he might be able to move the mapping department along. He was not in the office, and I never received a return response to this call.

• On June 11, I called the mapping department and was told we were second in line, and it should be done by next week.

• On June 19, I talked to Kati in the mapping department and she said it should be finished by this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

• On June 20, she called and confirmed it was ready and a copy had been given to the city.

By early June, it was obvious that the city was no longer responding to my calls or e-mails, so I started the process of having a deed drawn up, even though that was on the city’s to-do list.

• On June 20, I wrote to the mayor’s administrative assistant, Kimberly Newman, and asked what name should be put on the deed. She replied that it should be put in the name of “The City of Hillsboro.”

• On June 27, I went to the city administration building and followed all the steps required to pay the fees and have the deed left at the Recorder’s Office ready to be recorded. I was told that was as far as I could take it and that the city must approve and then stamp the deed before it could be recorded.

• On July 3, I received a call from the mayor telling me there was a problem with the deed. I asked three times what the problem was and he wouldn’t tell me. There was something in the wording of the deed that he didn’t like, and he advised me to get a lawyer in Cincinnati – not in Hillsboro.

• On July 9, the deed was re-worded, signed and again notarized. This time, the mapping department had pre-approved the wording so there should be no problem with the deed being accepted by the city.

The deed to the Parker House made out to the city of Hillsboro was delivered to the city on July 10. Through an e-mail, I found out that Mel McKenzie reviewed the deed but wanted the mayor to approve it before he stamped it.

Since the agreement said that “the transfer should occur as soon as possible,” I sent an e-mail to the mayor asking about the status of the deed on July 11.

• On July 12, Kimberly Newman replied that they “need some time to complete this transfer to be assured it is done properly.”

Since this was vague and did not comply with the terms of the agreement, I sent an e-mail on Monday morning, July 15 to the mayor and his assistant, saying I would like one of two responses in writing by the end of the day on Friday, July 19: either the deed has been stamped and recorded or I wanted a specific answer as to what is holding it up. Depending on their response, I said I would seek legal counsel.

I never received a response to this e-mail, so my assumption was that the deed was not recorded but they could not tell me a good reason why.

I met with Joe Trauth of KMK Law in Cincinnati on Friday, July 19.

• On July 23, Joe Trauth sent a letter to the city explaining that he represents the Hope family and that Jack Hope no longer owns any downtown Hillsboro properties. Therefore, the adjudication orders that were sent to us were in error. Two of the properties had been sold in May and the Parker House deed had been turned over to the city per our agreement on July 10.

• On July 25, the Times Gazette quoted the mayor saying “we’re wanting (the Hope family) to take care of the Parker House,” even though the city has been holding a deed to the Parker House naming the city as the owner since July 10. He said the Hope family “feels” there was an agreement that the city should tear it down.

Yes, there is a notarized agreement stating exactly that which is dated April 29. He also said the agreement was not fulfilled in time. The only time listed on the notarized agreement is “as soon as possible.” Everything was completed as soon as possible and totally by the Hope family – the city did nothing to complete their part of the list of conditions.

• On August 12, I attended the Hillsboro Council meeting along with one of my lawyers, Taylor Trout. After the meeting, he spoke at length with Kathryn Hapner, one of the city’s legal counsel. Our impression after that meeting was that things would be moving along soon and that the city would accept the deed to the Parker House.

• On August 13, Taylor let me know that the city is now saying the deed needs to be made out to the Hillsboro Area Economic Development Division instead of the city.

• On August 22, I drove to downtown Cincinnati and again signed the third deed for the Parker House to be transferred to the city. KMK Law sent someone to Hillsboro the same day to drop off the new deed at the Recorder’s Office.

• On August 27, I received word from Joe Trauth that the deed has finally been recorded as of yesterday. It was stamped and approved by Richard R. Donley.

Thinking that this long delayed transfer was finally over, I was shocked to see the report in The Highland County Press from the Sept. 9 city council meeting.

Hastings claims that the Parker House issue has taken a turn for the “weird” and that we somehow slipped through the transfer of the deed to the city.

We did not record the deed and have been told each time we dropped off a new deed that all city property has to be approved before being transferred.

Hastings said: “We weren’t just going to take the building and pay for the demolition. I have a feeling we will definitely be going to court over this. It just took an odd turn.”

There has never been any communication to the Hope family regarding expectations that we would pay for the demolition of the Parker House, and that is not what the April 29 agreement states.

So, in conclusion, the Parker House property has been properly transferred to the city of Hillsboro and the city has recorded the deed per the terms of our April 29 notarized agreement.

Sincerely,
Linda Doerger