August 8, 2012 [Joanne Berger DuMound, cleveland.com]
BEREA — The city will obtain a 1.4-acre parcel with a vacant building in the city’s north end for less than $75.
City Council met in special session Monday and approved the transaction between the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Land Bank, and Berea. Council suspended the three-reading rule to finalize the agreement prior to it being placed on the State Forfeiture Sale’s list next month.
Mayor Cyril M. Kleem sponsored the legislation and supported the property as a city acquisition.
“We will put it in our land bank for possible development when interest is generated,” Kleem said.
The former Berea Castings plant on Thacker Street did not receive a bid during two Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s sales. That action allowed the county’s land bank to acquire such properties from the forfeiture sale list and transfer it to communities.
The building was used as an aluminum die castings manufacturer. It has been vacant for about two years. It is in an industrial area, but abuts the city’s Uptown District. The city has received nothing in income tax from that property since 2008, said Finance Director Dana Kavander.
Rebecca Corrigan, executive director of the Berea Community Development Corporation, said the city has been in contact with the land bank since mid July about the property. She said the city has a “very good” relationship with the land bank, on which Kleem is a board member.
“The timing is why we are here. It is a critical piece of property for the city to take over. I cannot stress enough that it is an eye sore, eroding the property values of those in that area and it is the gateway to the city,” she said.
Safety Director Kenneth Adams added the issue also involved taking control of the property before someone else did and might neglect it.
Corrigan said the property likely has some environmental issues, which some council members also questioned, including Councilman at Large Dean W. Van Dress, Ward 3 Councilman Jim Maxwell and Ward 4 Councilwoman Cheryl A. Banaszak. Corrigan said the land bank will facilitate and pay for any environmental studies.
Corrigan said there are several state and federal programs that will pay for any potential environmental clean up that the studies may reveal is needed. One such state program is the Clean Ohio Fund.
“This is a perfect project for that. It will take some diligence on our part to line it up so the burden is not on the residents of Berea and not out of the general fund,” she said.
Maxwell, who dislikes voting on measures that have not had three readings at council meetings, said he would support the rest of council and suspend that action since the cost is not “big.” He told Corrigan he would have liked to know about this potential acquisition in July.
Corrigan thanked council in their voting for the measure.
“We appreciate your being proactive and getting the north end back to where it should be and making such a critical resolution for the city,” she said.