A Berea abandoned home site becomes community garden

Media Reports News

A Berea abandoned home site becomes community garden

December 8, 2011 [Joanne Berger DuMound, cleveland.com.]

BEREA —  An abandoned Runn Street house will become a home for a community garden.

Planning Commission approved a request to raze the building and its garage located at 422 Runn Street.

The Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, commonly known as the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, made the request via the Berea Community Development Corporation. The BCDC is the city’s agent in accepting such substandard, dilapidated property, which will be razed, sold or transformed into “something productive for our neighborhoods,” according to Rebecca Corrigan, BCDC’s executive director.

The land bank acquires vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties from a variety of sources, including Fannie Mae and financial institutions. They can then deed properties to cities, which is the plan for the Runn Street parcel.

Corrigan said the property, 43 feet wide and 165 feet long, has been vacant and abandoned. She showed photos to commission members of the interior and exterior of the house now on the property.

She said the structures will be torn down, creating a “clean slate” on the property.

“Our proposal is to accept it on behalf of the city from the land bank and possibly do a myriad of things,” Corrigan said.

“Since this is the first home that abuts an industrial district, it would be nice to have green space to (improve) the residential aspect of the neighborhood.

“In the past, the city has worked with St. Thomas Church, Berea Welfare and others to provide fresh produce,” Corrigan said. “With an urban garden approach, it goes with the city’s interest in such a project.”

Commission member Andy Fay complimented Corrigan in working with the county to get the structures removed this year.

Member Donald Sawyer agreed the property needed help.

“I can attest to the condition of the house,” he said. “I have done a lot of inspections in that area.”

Corrigan said several entities, including the city’s service department, will work with the BCDC to maintain the garden and the property.

The Rev. Gayle Catinella, of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, said she wrote a letter of endorsement for the project. She knows the success of urban gardens since the church worked with the city and Baldwin-Wallace College to obtain land next to its West Bagley Road facility to create one last year. The garden was very productive this year.

“I understand this is a city project, but we are advocates and partners and will use our gardening experience to help in any way we can,” said Catinella.

“Our garden has been amazingly successful. We are absolutely supportive in doing more of this as a community. We know there is a very real need for fresh fruit and vegetables through our experience. I am honored our garden has sparked interest in developing more that will help our community.”

Mayor Cyril M. Kleem currently is a member of the land bank’s board of directors.