University Heights City Council, mayor disagree on process for home's demolition

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University Heights City Council, mayor disagree on process for home’s demolition

December 27, 2016 [Jeff Piorkowski, special to]

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — City Council wants a long-vacant home to be demolished within the next 60 days, but Mayor Susan Infeld believes that waiting to take action might prove more beneficial to all concerned. 

At the University Heights City Council meeting of Dec. 19, the subject of seeking funding for demolition of a nuisance home at 3505 Tullamore Road was a topic of discussion. 

Infeld would like to see the Cuyahoga County Department of Development and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank have a chance to evaluate the home to determine if it can be rehabilitated. If it cannot be rehabilitated, Infeld explained, the county would pay for its demolition. 

“If the Land Bank can rehabilitate the home, they will pay to do it and to market it for resale,” she said. “My concern is that council doesn’t want the Land Bank to finish the process.” 

An 18-month window of opportunity to evaluate the home opened in January, 2016, meaning the county would have about six months to compete its work and make a recommendation. 

Council members felt waiting wasn’t the proper thing to do and passed a motion by a 7-0 vote to demolish the home within 60 days. It made available $14,990 in city money for the demolition. 

Vice Mayor Susan Pardee said that, for the sake of the street’s residents, action needs to be taken sooner than later. 

“It’s affecting and poisoning a neighborhood,” Pardee said of the home. “I decided it was time to take action and put a limit on what would be done. I was very happy to hear that all my council colleagues agreed.” 

Pardee said council began hearing from neighbors complaining about the state of the home, vacant for several years, beginning in June 2015. The home’s condition, she said, has made it inviting to wildlife and possibly to people who should not be there. 

Pardee said the mayor did not inform council until the Dec. 19 council meeting about the county’s involvement and the 18-month period. 

“We don’t know what the 18-month period means,” she said. 

As for demolition, Pardee said, “The mayor said at the Dec. 5 council meeting she would have put in writing three bids, but she didn’t have them for us (on Dec. 19).” 

Infeld said it is not known whether $14,990 will cover the cost of demolition, and added that Law Director Luke McConville must first contact lien holders and others involved with the house before demolition can take place. 

“I don’t know if 60 days will be enough for the law director to do what he has to do,” Infeld said. “The county and the Land Bank were very surprised that we did not want to take advantage of what they are offering. 

“The former (University Heights) building commissioner (Eric Tuck-Macalla) thought the home was a candidate for rehabilitation.” 

In addition to the home being in a run-down state, its garage needs repairs, as well, including a new door. 

“The bottom line is that council wants to pay for demolition within 60 days,” Infeld said. “That is a timeline we don’t know if we can meet.” 

Mayor Susan Infeld presents Jerry Jacobson a proclamation declaring him ‘University Heights Citizen of the Year.’ 

Jacobson, who was presented a proclamation at the Dec. 19 council meeting, has served with the city’s auxiliary police since 1977. An auxiliary police lieutenant, Jacobson works in the area of community policing and in other capacities. He has served the city as a Memorial Day Parade Commission member for more than 30 years. 

A lifelong University Heights resident who graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and Ohio State University, Jacobson worked locally as well as for several years with different circuses. His wife, Margot, who died in 1988, was also a circus performer. The couple had two daughters, both now living in Washington, D.C. 

“I think he’s done a lot for the city and that he should be recognized for his work on the city’s behalf,” Infeld said. 

— Community Development Coordinator Patrick Grogan said the city is seeking a share of federal Community Development Block Grant funding for a project at Cedar and Taylor roads. 

That project would have curbs on the eastern side of the intersection at Cedar and Taylor roads made ADA compliant to make crossing the street and traversing the area easier for those with physical disabilities. The job is expected to cost about $120,000. 

Cuyahoga County disperses CDBG funds to city’s with a population of less than 50,000.