June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Medina meeting focuses on improving city’s older neighborhoods

Residents gathered Thursday evening at Second Baptist Church in Medina and began to develop a strategy aimed at improving the city’s older neighborhoods.

It was the first in many weekly meetings Councilman Bill Lamb, at large, plans to hold to solve the problem of declining property values in the area.

“My perception is that what we need for the inner city is a muscular strategy to deal with decline in property value,” he said.

The Rev. C.P. Carter, pastor of Second Baptist Church, said he has been working with people on Bronson Street, an area that has seen an escalation of drug use in past years.

“There was a time on this street when the majority were homeowners. It is still a good neighborhood, but we have some work to do,” he said. “It will be driven by the people that live here.”

Lamb said he hopes the meetings with community members will result in a specific plan of action by the beginning of next year.

Lamb points to the Strategic Downtown Redevelopment Plan as a basis for his idea, saying he wants to focus on rental property inspections, restructuring code enforcements and improving infrastructure and landscaping.

“People think that the downtown is a beautifully restored area but at the beginning it wasn’t about a perfect restoration,” he said. “It did turn into something much more wonderful than that.

“My goal is similar, but to do it in the neighborhoods where property values have declined.”

Lamb wants the community to come up with a plan that will bring more homebuyers into the neighborhoods, which are dominated by rental communities.

“There is no investment in the upkeep and you have deterioration in the neighborhoods,” he said about nonlocal property owners who lease houses. “People want to live there, but they want to have nice infrastructure.”

Cliff Bellar, of RE/MAX, owns rental properties in the area and voiced his concern with strict point of sale inspections.

“In its essence, I don’t have a problem with a point-of-sale inspection, but there are so many flaws,” he said. “Some of the inspections just go too far.”

Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who attended the meeting, said a dialogue between the city and property owners would be imperative.

“What was two months turns into six,” he said on the city enforcing codes on some properties throughout the city.

Former Councilwoman Pamela Miller told Lamb the strategy needs to start by bringing the residents of city blocks together one at a time.

“You just can’t say you will revitalize a street if the people on that street don’t come together,” she said. “If you can get a group of people together and educate them, then you can tackle those social issues.”

Lamb encourages the public to continue the discussion at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at Second Baptist Church, 451 Bronson St.

“I am open to anyone’s ideas that would be effective in improving their neighborhoods,” he said. “People deserve a good neighborhood.”

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.

Andrew Davis About Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis covered Medina city government for The Gazette from January 2014 to May 2015. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.