The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 1, 2013

Park Haven on block

Nursing home with meth lab will be auctioned March 21

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Park Haven Nursing Home, where a methamphetamine fire nearly a year ago made nationwide news, will be up for auction come March.

The auction will be held at 11 a.m. March 21 at Park Haven, 4533 Park Ave.

Dave Bambeck of Bamback Auctioneers in Dover is in charge of the auction. Terms of the sale include a minimum opening bid of $250,000. Prospective buyers must present a $25,000 cashier’s check at time of auction to be qualified to bid.

When contacted by phone Thursday, Bambeck said he just put up the auction sign, hoping it will draw interest. He said the facility is suitable to be made into apartments.

The former 50-bed long-term care nursing home closed its doors in late March after moving the facility’s residents to other area nursing homes, including Carrington Park in Ashtabula and Lake Pointe Nursing Center in Conneaut.

The owner of the facility is Beatrice Knowlson of Ashtabula.

More than $17,000 in back taxes is owed on the property, according to the county auditor’s website.

The front of Park Haven is a historic house, which adjoins a long, narrow building. The now-vacant nursing home looks out on a desolate parking lot behind a vacant, run-down Carlisle’s department store.

According the website, about 50 employees lost their jobs when the facility closed after the fire killed one man and injured six others.

Before the meth lab fire last year, Park Haven housed 39 residents in 31 rooms with most living on the first floor, according to the Ohio Department of Health report.

The Ashtabula Fire Department determined the fire was the result of the explosion of an illegal one-bottle, “shake and bake” meth lab operation evidently conducted by the fire victim, according to the ODH report.

Park Haven residents were evacuated from the building when the fire broke out at 8:37 p.m. March 4 and the fire was quickly extinguished, according to the fire department’s report. Late that night, the chief cleared the structure for re-entry, but one room and a hallway were heavily damaged, the report said.

One non-resident, Shaun Warrens, 31, died of his injuries March 5.

Soon after, inspectors from the Ohio Department of Health uncovered several deficiencies at the nursing home.

Keith E. Bilbrey, 27, was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for his part in the meth lab fire at Park Haven that killed his brother.

He was charged with complicity to aggravated arson, a first-degree felony, according to Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court records.

Bilbrey had been held in the county jail since Aug. 29 on a separate meth felony drug charge.

Common Pleas Judge Ronald Vettel sentenced Bilbrey to five years in prison for the Park Haven incident to run consecutively with three years on the other drug charge.

Vettel said this was a serious case as Bilbrey helped Kevin Bucci and Warrens risk the physical harm of others.

On Jan. 7, county prosecutors charged Bucci, 43, with complicity to aggravated arson, according to court records.