Old Barrows Survives Another Year Despite Threats of Closing

Caroline Hui, Staff Writer

Old Barrows co-op will remain open next year, according to an email from the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association to Old Barrows members on March 4.

The College had planned to replace Old Barrows — affectionately called “Old B” by its members — with a co-op in the language maze next fall. This new co-op was postponed per the Lorain County Health Department’s recommendation.

“The Lorain County Health Department has been working with OSCA to improve OSCA’s cleanliness and food safety in the kitchens,” the e-mail said. “The Lorain County Health Department strongly recommended that we postpone this new co-op until we have made clear steps towards the improvement of kitchen cleanliness and food safety. Considering the recommendation of the Health Department, it is very unlikely that they’ll give us the license we need to open the new co-op.”

Old B is rented to OSCA by the College. According to junior member Ian Martin, in spring 2007, the College indicated that it wanted possession of Old B’s space, and the rent contract said the College would meet to discuss phasing out the co-op. Last spring, a formal plan was put into the contract in which the College would notify OSCA by Feb. 1 whether or not it wanted Old B for itself in fall 2011. In exchange, OSCA would receive the language maze base.

“All indications were that the College wanted to take Old B back at the end of this year,” Martin said. “But Feb. 1 passed and they [hadn’t said anything]. Before the process to officially close Old B got started and open the new co-op, we got the recommendation that we shouldn’t open a new co-op. Because of that, we aren’t giving Old B back to the College.”

Members are unsure why the College wanted to stop renting out Old B, but have speculated it was because the building has had structural deficiencies in the past — according to Martin, circa 1993, a toilet fell through the ceiling.

“I’m really excited to have the chance to eat in Old B again,” College first-year and co-op member Ben Plaut said. “I love the community, the food and, yes, maybe even the building.”