8/27/2006

Eminent domain pushed by mayor in Sheffield Lake: Lorain OH Morning Journal, 8/17/06

By Megan King

Mayor John Piskura recommended to [the Shefield Lake] City Council on Tuesday night that an eminent domain action be initiated on a portion of the property at Shoreway Shopping Center on Lake Road. City officials said the land is needed for parking at the city boat launch that's scheduled to open next year.

At a July 25 meeting, council gave Piskura an Aug. 15 deadline to negotiate with the center's owner, the Levin Trust, for an agreement to purchase the property.

While the city wants the shopping center redeveloped and will consider taking the entire property by eminent domain, this action is for an 8,000-square-foot parcel that would provide overflow parking for the boat launch.

When an agreement was not reached by the deadline, Piskura recommended that the city begin eminent domain action so parking can be available when the boat launch opens.

A special council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 29 to vote on legislation to proceed with eminent domain, according to an e-mail newsletter distributed by Piskura.

Piskura also said in the newsletter that he recommends that council discuss whether to take the entire shopping center property by eminent domain at a September council meeting.

''Everyone still believes the boat launch is important, and we have to get it done,'' Piskura said yesterday. ''We don't have a signed lease in our hands that gives us the overflow parking that we need. We have to cover all of our bases, so we're starting the process. If the Levin Trust wants to deal reasonably with the city, a lease can always be negotiated, but we're looking out for our best interest.''

Tom Fagin of RMS Investment Corp., which manages the property on behalf of the Levin Trust, declined to comment on the potential eminent domain action, but he noted that the company is making improvements to the center. He said the company is working to remove graffiti and trying to improve the landscaping at the center.

''We're hoping when (the eminent domain issue) is settled, there will be dramatic improvements,'' Fagan said.

The city had made a $4.48 million offer to purchase the center, but the offer expired July 14. The owners said they were not in a position to redevelop and countered with a $6.5 million purchase price.

Piskura said cleaning up the run-down center and providing boat launch parking are crucial to revitalizing Sheffield Lake.

''I believe that this project is important,'' he said. It's paramount to turning our city around, and we not let these details get in our way. We have to do everything we can to make sure that the boat launch gets built next year.''


Lorain OH Morning Journal: http://www.morningjournal.com