Eminent Domain, NO!

Home (Main Menu)

  • 4-9-08: Eminent Domain, NO!

  • COMMENTARY

  • BACKGROUND

    www.avoncitizensforchange.com/

    Avon Citizens for Change

    The Avon Citizens for Change is committed to improving the lives of every citizen of Avon, Ohio. Through information and advocacy, we can make a difference! We will meet with our elected officials, attend hearings, and support candidates that are advocates of change.

    Together, we can successfully make improvements in our community so we can build a better world for our children. We must hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make and ensure they are in the best interest of ALL Avon residents.

    Our volunteer base is growing daily as citizens have found a voice and renewed sense of hope. You too can make a difference. Please send us an e-mail at

    noeminentdomain@yahoo.com

    Clip posted on YouTube of Mary Jane Wolfe's speech to the Avon BOE March 18 2008 meeting:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc5jW8d6Is8

    Top -- Home

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Mornining Journal, 4-7-08, by Kim Vargo, Avon Citizens for Change

    Avon Eminent Domain / Ms. Mary Jane Wolfe

    ``I am the Treasurer of Avon Citizens for Change and also manage the website. I am the one who receives the daily emails in the Yahoo account and letters from the PO box. I have been noticing a change in our citizen's tone when posting and writing. They are becoming increasingly angrier with time.

    What started out as people wanting the eminent domain proceedings to stop has now become frustration and anger over lack of response from certain board members. Whether someone writes a 3-page letter or a one or two sentence, they are met with a "thanks for your comments" from board president, Dale Smitek. Someone asked that the board members use a microphone in order for all to hear, and a simple reply of "we will talk louder", again from Mr. Smitek ...

    No amount of concern, question or frustration seems to get their attention. When we all received our copy of Avon Avenues this past week, the emails literally started pouring in and the telephone would not stop ringing. Is our school board really that out of touch?

    Daily I receive sign requests from people on Detroit, Chester, Schwartz and Long Roads, (this issue is not in THEIR backyards) have they not seen the hundreds of signs popping up everywhere? We can't keep up, we order more and quickly run out. Support letters from cities such as Amherst, North Ridgeville, Vermillion, and Westlake. Donations from Parma and Cleveland Heights, emails from Michigan, Pennsylvania even California (just to name a few). Does our BOE really think that there is only a small group of people (NIMBY as we were called) making all this noise? Come on!

    The issue here is eminent domain. No one likes it; no one wants to have it happen. It sets a bad precedent.

    What we are asking the board to do is look at all options. Eminent Domain is only to be used as a last resort. What other sites have they looked at? Why can't they renovate on the existing site? How long have they been discussing this?

    For the record the current middle school is in our backyard. I see it daily and don't have a problem with it. We used to love hearing the band practice. I started attending the board meetings in support of Mr. Barnhart. I was shocked and amazed at the disrespect he was shown and honestly could not believe that these people were our board members and the ones making the choices for our city and our children. It is wrong.

    We want the eminent domain proceedings to stop and for the BOE to work with the community on mending the relationship and regaining trust and respect.

    Thank You, Kim Vargo''

    http://www.avoncitizensforchange.com

    -------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 4-9-08, By CHANDA NEELY, Morning Journal Writer

    ``Avon schools drop eminent domain

    AVON -- Eminent domain action against an Avon property owner by the school board was surprisingly taken off the table last night [4-8-08].

    The school board unanimously voted yesterday in a special meeting to no longer pursue taking 25 to 27 acres of land on Center Road by legal action for a future school building.

    ''I am overwhelmed,'' property owner Mary Jane Wolfe said through tears. ''I am grateful for everybody's support and encouragement.

    ''It's like a thousand pounds off my shoulders. It's just a big relief. I want to thank the board. I am very grateful to the board for not going through with the eminent domain action.''

    The board passed a resolution on Feb. 19 [2008]. to acquire the land at 2740 and 2758 Center Road by eminent domain ...

    Wolfe has been against the idea from the very beginning. ''My land is not for sale,'' Wolfe told the board at a meeting on March 18. ''I intend to pass it on just as my parents did for me.''

    The board did not explained last night why they changed their minds ... President Dale Smitek read from a prepared statement. ''In the spirit of cooperation, we'd like to make a motion rescinding the resolution made on Feb. 19.'' ...

    ''We were guardedly optimistic coming into this meeting, especially when we saw this agenda knowing there would be the regular board meeting in one week,'' Tim Bresnahan, spokesman said for Avon Citizens for Change. ''The fact that their lawyers are not (at last night's board meeting) adds to that optimism. They certainly don't need to lawyer up to pull back in their eminent domain proceedings.''

    Citizens formed the political action committee Avon Citizens for Change to campaign against the eminent domain action. The group has distributed more than 200 yard signs and voiced their displeasure at previous board meetings.

    ''The group as a whole feels a sense of relief for Mary Jane,'' Bresnahan said. ''This has been months of hell. We just feel very relieved for her.''''

    ------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-9-08, by Jason Hawk

    ``Avon school board backs off from eminent domain claim

    AVON -- Mary Jane Wolfe collapsed in tears against a friend's shoulder Tuesday night when she learned she would not have to give up her family's land.

    After an hour behind closed doors, the Avon school board relented and said it would not use the courts to force Wolfe to sell 25 acres of her Center Road farmstead.

    "When you're faced with something like this, it's so good to have friends," she said, moving from one hug to another across the Heritage North Elementary media center where the meeting was held. "It will be good just to be able to sleep soundly tonight."

    A month ago, the Avon Board of Education announced it wanted her land -- with or without her cooperation.

    The plan was to build a new middle school there to address an expected surge in students as houses continue to be built in the fast-growing town. Wolfe's property, school board members insisted, was the best place to do so.

    But on Tuesday, the school board was closeted in executive session until about 8:30 p.m., when board president Dale Smitek emerged and announced that the board was reversing course and would abandon its plan to use eminent domain to force her to sell.

    Smitek said the change was because of amicable talks with Wolfe and her attorney. But Wolfe said she doesn't want to sell, and she doesn't think the school board will continue to pursue her property.

    The board's actions led to the creation of a grassroots group that protested by erecting signs around the town and gathering more than 500 signatures on a petition. In addition, donations totaling more than $4,000 were collected from supporters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and California.

    "For now it's a feeling of overwhelming relief," said Tim Bresnahan, spokesman for the Avon Citizens for Change.

    Kim Vargo, who is the organization's treasurer, said volunteers put up more than 250 signs and couldn't keep up with the demand for them. School board members Kevin Romanchok and Susan Harrison also had asked for signs in front of their homes, Vargo said.

    "The popular opinion in Avon supports Mary Jane," said one supporter, Lee Cory. "Everybody here can imagine how it would feel if the school board wanted to take their property."

    Wolfe said she hopes her land -- which has been in her family since 1955 -- is permanently safe from seizure, but there are no guarantees. She wants to one day hand it down to her descendants, she said.

    "It's the memories, the peace of mind. It's the quiet there," she said. "That place is so important to me, especially after everything that's happened."

    Vargo said the Avon Citizens for Change will continue to stand guard in case Wolfe has to be defended again ...

    "Everybody knows we need a new middle school. We weren't protesting that here," she said. "Our problem was this specific move to take Mary Jane's property. We didn't understand why the school had to be built there."''

    Contact Jason Hawk at jhawk@chroniclet.com.

    Top -- Home

    COMMENTARY

    Source: http://www.loraincounty.com

    ``Avon Logic wrote:

    "I feel eminent domain should be used if the Wolfe property is the best location for the middle school."

    At this point, the school board has carried out no studies to evaluate alternatives. But this is really not the issue.

    As Americans, we have certain inaienable rights: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Begin to tremble when politicians can convince a majority that our rights should be taken from us because something is "best" for us. The 20th century should convince us that the worst dictatorship is the dictatorship of the majority, which comes to the logical conclusion that only The Leader has rights because he(/she) embodies the will of the people.

    Written by: Oldtimer on April 3, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Think About It

    It is very upsetting to the memory of our fathers who fought for our freedoms in WW1, WW2, Korea, Viet Nam, and some of us who have sons and daughters in the Persian Gulf to read that someone would justify this deplorable act of injustice.

    Written by: avonloyal on April 3, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Think About It

    Here are FACTS to think about:

    The current middle school sits on 30 acres - the recommended site size for a middle school - grades 6-8 (avon is just 7th and 8th) is 20 acres + 1 acre per 100 students. This is directly from the Ohio School Facilities Commission [OSFC] - somehow [a BOE member] has been telling people it is a minimun of 25 acres +1 per - that is an outright lie. I have documentation which proves it. For $10 anyone can purchase the design manual from the OSFC.

    The current site can house up to 1000 students. My 1st grader has the largest class size currently enrolled at avon - 321 students. So in 6 years there may be 700 - 750 students. WHY DOES [a BOE member] THINK HE NEEDS 55 ACRES??? Perhaps he has a vision of a sports complex where the existing school sits? Hmmm now I wonder who is a developer in this town?

    By the way, the plan in '06 was to build an addition on the HS to house an additional 800 students - tear down the middle school and rebuild on the current site. We PASSED the bond levy to make it happen and now they change gears with no notice or explanation - Smells kinda fishy to me and many others.

    Written by: AvonResident on April 3, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Think About It

    I am not against a new middle school. I am against a new middle school being built on land taken from a long-time resident who DOES NOT wish to sell when there are other options available. Many residents at March's BOE meeting wanted to begin a community task force to work with the BOE on discussing other options, including building a new school on the existing property. Romanchok tried to pass a motion--no other BOE member would second. [a BOE member] dismissed those of us in attendance and completely ignored these requests. This tells me he and the other 2 who voted along w/him in February have made up their minds and don't wish to listen to anyone. That's wrong and shameful.

    Written by: avonmomof2 on April 3, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Think About It

    The middle schoolers can be housed in the addition we just paid for on the HS - or did you conveniently forget that we passed a levy in may '06 for that? Or that [an administrator] told us the plan was to house the middle schoolers in the new addition while the new school was being built ON the exsisting site. Check the Morning Journal 1/25/06 - or did that not really happen?

    How about facts?

    The OSFC is supposedly where [a BOE member] is quoting his 25 + acres from - but that is a lie - the OSFC is the Ohio standard and the manual is for ALL schools not just ones they are funding.

    Where are you getting 10,000 residents from?? 2200 voted for [a BOE member] in '05 and by the way - he was voted OUT in 2001 - as luck would have it, one of the '01 board members resigned and guess who [a BOE member] and [a BOE member] voted in ,,,

    By the way - the Avon schools are where they are because of the PARENTS and RESIDENTS - not 3 self-righteous, self-serving arrogant people with hidden agendas. If the parents were not involved where would we be?

    The 3 stooges could run the BOE with the amount of money and support they receive from the community - oh wait - they already are.

    Written by: AvonResident on April 3, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Think About It

    Didn't they HAVE to put the bus garage over on Detroit to build a new middle school on the present site? They have enough room to build where it is and don't need other options.

    Written by: cpa on April 3, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Get it Straight

    Every movement starts somewhere. This movement started out small but seems to me to be growing rapidly! Every day I see more and more signd going up in protest of this E.D. issue. And yet the elected BOE refuses to listen to the people!

    Think of these few points as they are but a few as to why residents are questioning the actions and honesty of our BOE!

    1) All one has to do is read the report gived by "the expert" that was hired to evaluate the possible exposure to bus exhaust and it is clear that the Avon BOE chose to do what they wanted insted of what was best for our children. Have you ever heard the phrase" long term effect"?

    2) The BOE stated that Mrs. Wolf's property is the "best Location". Well what are the other locations they consider not best. Will the world ever know. I think not because the BOE wants to make it seem as if this property is the only one that can work. Just so you know a good architect can do wonders with a not so perfect site! Ever seen Falling Water?

    3) People like you want the people of Avon to think that this ACFC group is a bunch of trouble makers that do not know what they are talking about. From my view point they seem to be providing the people of Avon with important information that the BOE will not! Lots of info on their site ... not much on the BOE site, why is that?

    4) Why won't the BOE porvide/disclose the information about attornoy fees? It may not be the case but it makes me and others wonder if ther really is somthing to hide. Over $500,000.00 dollars paid out when they could get it for free. That fact mandated by the Ohio BOE!

    I suggest you find a good friend to have lunch with so he/she can set you straight! Everwhere I go in Avon people are talking about why the BOE thinks they can bully the residents of Avon. I am proud of the Avon school system and the quality education it provides to my sons. But for me and my family we will vote no on the levi to build a school on that can be qouted as "stolen land" Oh and yes we know it won't come up for some time but I'll wait.

    The residents of Avon have the right to an opinion and to voice said opinion to the people that you yourself pointed out that they elected. That with the expectation that these elected people would at least listen to the arguments. If the BOE was running today I think there would be some newfaces taking those "3" ... seats!

    The real shame here is this BOE is ruining the relationship between themselves and the people of Avon. Look at some of the other cities and towns around Avon and you can see how hard it is for them to pass a school ballot! Not because the people don't have the moniey but because the people do not trust what their BOEs are doing with the money. With the trust being broken in Avon this BOE is in for a rough road come time for the public vote on anything!

    Written by: proudeagle on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Think About It

    ... We are your worst nightmare - well educated - informed citizens, and it scares the crap out of you. By the time we are done - everyone in this town will know what has been going on for years behind closed doors. Your gravy train is about to be derailed.

    Have a super terrific day! I hear the Seniors are having their spring gala event - perhaps you can go and steal their walkers and canes. Swing by their houses and steal their social security checks while you are at it - you can pay the attorney's - half a million doesn't seem to be enough.

    Written by: AvonResident on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: [tear down some more woods]

    It sounds like the devil is coming to collect the souls that were sold to him in the name of development.

    Why don't you just approve another couple of housing developments so you can tear down some more woods, upset the ecosystem and then steal long time citizens property.

    Written by: ThinkSo on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: All right, the end all be all...

    ... IF the Avon BOE stops the eminent domain (which is the focus of ACFC), starts a community task force w/the concerned citizens, and LISTENS to and RESPONDS to those concerns.. I myself would be willing to let them sit out their terms ...

    I also think an apology is in order for Ms. Wolfe and financial reimbursement for her expenses in keeping her property.

    But I will tell you - the reckless spending will always be an issue, esp. in these economic times. Believe me, we are FOR the schools and realize that not passing levies and bonds does impact our children.. but if that is the only way to get the school board's attention that is what the people will do. We do have alternatives as to where our children attend school, just as we have choices as to who sits on the board.

    Written by: avon7 on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: silent who?

    How convenient that Avon Avenues is being sent to Avon residents now. The BOE is trying to justify stealing Ms. Wolfe's land and they are using the "fear" tactic to get everyone to agree w/them. Oh my gosh--fail a school levy and the kids and community are doomed--run for your lives!

    Please--give me a break. If I recall, not too long ago Avon Lake Schools failed a levy and they seemed to fare pretty well--still rated excellent and their High School was recently rated one of the best in the country per US News & World Report. Was Avon's--No!!

    What numerous land sites did the BOE look into? They're not listed in Avon Avenues ...

    The best location for a new middle school is the land the current middle school sits on today--that was [an administrator]'s plan back in 2006, it should still be the plan today. It's close to the "sports facilities" [a BOE member] references, so the lovely little middle schoolers, who can't drive, can walk to practice--exactly how many students is that anyway ...

    Don't believe everything that's been politically "spun" in this one-sided, biased Avon BOE Newsletter. Anyone who attended February [2008] and March's BOE meetings know how arrogant [a BOE member] behaved, how disrespectful [a BOE member] was during Ms. Wolfe's speech and how defensive [a BOE member] was.

    [Avon Avenues] is their only venue to get their pathetic "message" across. My neighbors attended their first meeting in March, they have no children in the district, but were curious. After the meeting, their first question was, how do we get these "clowns" out of office and where can we donate money to Ms. Wolfe's defense fund?

    Written by: avonmomof2 on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Emotions Aside

    Can anyone answer this question?

    Why is the '06 plan no longer valid? We passed the May '06 levy, we added to the HS - which can now house an additional 800 students. Why is the current 30 acre site no longer adequate? Please just answer that and I will be done.

    Fact - we need 30 acres to house 1000 students - and [a BOE member] refered to the OSFC in the Avenues - although his figure of 25 acre's is a lie. I will be more than happy to e-mail a the copy i got directly from the OSFC ...

    PLEASE just answer 1 question. WHY CAN'T THEY RE-BUILD ON THE CURRENT SITE?

    Written by: AvonResident on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Emotions Aside

    That's interesting, since they housed all 7-12 grades in the current middle school when they were building the new high school? What's changed since then?

    Written by: avonmomof2 on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Neutral Response

    I have been reading all of the recent postings, and I can't believe how everyone misses the point.

    I went to the BOE meeting when the vote was taken to take Mrs. Wolfe's property. I was not there because of that issue, I was there to listen why the board was charging so much money for all day kindergarten classes.

    When this vote came up, one of the people in attendance asked for a 120 grace period be given, so that information could be given out to the public on this matter. I thought that idea was a reasonable request, then everyone could review the facts on this issue. The board could present its view and show the public what other land that they looked at, what resources and facts that they had gathered, and any studies they did to show that they did their homework, and that indeed this was the best site. I was shocked ... that they ignored that request and basically were non responsive to that request. Had they done that, I do not believe this matter whould have progressed to this point.

    I think that the board has a responsibility to show the public what procedures and studies they did to come up with the decision that they made to take this woman's property.

    How many other parcels of land did they review?

    Did they talk to owners of property that had theirs for sale?

    If what I read on this blog is correct, they have options on land on Long road, if so, what is this land to be used for?

    Also, isn't there land just west of the high school that could possibly be looked at,(It also goes behind the Methodist church) which I believe is right next to the high school property, was this considered?

    I think most of the Avon people just want to feel that this board did its due diligence in finalizing on Mrs. Wolfe's property. Is this too much to ask of a board?

    But, if they did not take every avenue to buy property that is available for sale by willing sellers, and if this choice was just the opinion of just one person or a few, then this is wrong. Seizing land because you just want to have it and it is convenient, is morally wrong.

    There are a lot of houses that I wish to own, but if a property owner is not willing to sell, and rejects my offers, then I have to look elsewhere. The BOE should do the same.

    ... If they talked to other sellers, that is public knowledge. Just inform us of all steps that they took. Everyone knows whose land is for sale, that is hardly a secret, and developers know they same.

    Written by: bald eagle on April 4, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Emotions Aside - # of students

    I swore I was not going to respond again - but after reading the Avon Avenues again I felt compelled. Your multiplication skills are highly developed - but in [a BOE member]s own words - there are 820 HS students and 505 middle schoolers. Putting My U of A math skills to use - that is 1325 students - not 1800. So tell me guys/girls - the high school can now house 1600 students - WHY CANT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL BE TORN DOWN AND A NEW ONE BUILT??

    ... 2 years ago [an administrator] told the Journal the plan was to house the middle schoolers in the HS addition while they built on the existing site - it is documented.

    Also - if they can build a Lowes and Penny's in 9 months - i think they can build a school in a year.

    In addtion - for agruement's sake - say it takes 4 years to build a new school. Per [a BOE member] - there are 555 3rd and 4th graders, 515 5th and 6th, 505 - 7th and 8th, and 820 HS. - in 4 years there will be approx. 555 7th and 8th graders - 515 9th and 10th, and 505 11th and 12th - So worst case senerio there would be 1565 students in the HS.

    I really believe we could have a new middle school built by then.

    ... it would take about 1-2 months to clear the site and be ready for new contruction. A new school would be approx. 140,000 square ft. They estimated 9 month to 1 year to build that size facility.

    ... They bought [15?] acres on Long rd for a new elementry school.

    We just added on to East.

    Heritage is new

    The HS has a new addition

    Our only need is a new middle school and I think we can build where we are.

    The current housing market does not show any signs of rebounding - so growth will stagnate for a least a year or 2.

    I think we can support growth with what we have if we are prudent and proactive. I am trying to look at this logically - not emotionally.

    ... The School board has over 6 million dollars right now not allocated to any project - it is a surplus - this was in the minutes from one of the previous meetings - i cannot recall which one. This money is a result of the '06 bond issue we passed. In [a BOE member]s own words - the new middle school will open for the 2012 school year - but the current levy will not be renewable until May '11 - that tells me the money is there. This is quoted in the Avon Avenues.

    ... The board can also save the taxpayers over a million dollars by not aquiring the Wolfe property. Use that money for procurements.

    Written by: AvonResident on April 5, 2008

    -----------------

    Re: Old Germans?

    Creek wrote on April 4, 2008:

    "I believe the silent majority will realize that while everyone dislikes eminent domain, sometimes the greater good (highways, utility lines, public buildings) supercedes private rights."

    The rights of Americans are not superceded by the will of the majority or by the "public good", regardless of the power (and corruption) of The Leader. Our rights are the basis for our moral integrity because with rights comes responsibility; our rights are also the basis for our economic success and technical achievements.

    Our rights are "inalienable", but only so long as we are willing to fight for them. The corruptiom of power will triumph if good men and women do nothing. American freedom must not be taken for granted; it is a legacy that each generation must struggle to hand on to the next.

    What is happening to Mary Jane Wolfe could happen to any of us. By fighting for her, we are defending ourselves and our legacy of liberty.

    Written by: Oldtimer on April 5, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Reiglesberger and 83

    Does the owner have a say in what it is worth? Why should she settle for anything less then what she wants. How many acres aree needed for a middle school? More property off Reiglesberger then at middle school location now...Make it 2 or more stories and save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    ... Maybe it should be looked into before stealing property. You said maybe to the problems, well maybe not. I'd rather spend another $100,000 to use property that is just as good. What do you think it will cost the district if they take Wolf's property and then people refuse to pass any more levy's due to ignorance of BOE?

    Written by: Avon Res. on April 5, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Old Germans?

    ... Let's not forget--Ms. Wolfe DOES NOT WANT TO SELL--PERIOD. There are other options--[a BOE member] said so in March's meeting.

    I've lived here over 15 years and have seen many changes. I have a child currently in the middle school and I agree that a new school would be an asset to the community, but not in this way. The BOE does not NEED to take her property ...

    The best site is NOT Ms. Wolfe's land, the best site IS the current middle school property.

    Instead of paying O'Toole all OUR money on the extra legal fees this is going to cost US, the BOE should invest that money by hiring an architect that can work with that property and end this nonsense once and for all.

    Written by: avonmomof2 on April 5, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Old Germans?

    The glorifiers of state power will find that American rights trump the power of The Leader when the school board members who voted for eminent domain are recalled from office by a vote of the majority of the people.

    Just because the people of Avon are, for the moment, uninformed, does not mean that they are un-American. Those who have retained power because of indifference and silence are in for a shock.

    Written by: Oldtimer on April 6, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: bureaucratic monarchy

    What is so vitally important about this land for the growth of the community that an individul's right to exercise her ownership should be compromised? ...

    Written by: highlandparker on April 6, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Avon Schools/Avon BOE

    The school board has spent so much time telling the citizens of Avon that the schools are "excellent", why am I not yet a believer? Perhaps because this seems to be based on a single criteria, the proficiency tests.

    I'm not saying that the schools are bad, I just believe that great improvement could be made if the board, administrators, teachers and parents worked together. Having attended several board meetings, other than Mr. Romanchok, I have not seen the board members show a willingness to propose solutions based on the suggestions/comments from citizens. I have spoken to teachers who don't feel that their input is welcome either.

    My understanding is that pull-out programs for the gifted younger elementary students have been phased out over the last few years. For existing pull-out programs, the district has a higher criteria for eligibility than surrounding school districts. As far as the higher eligibility, Vickie Fisher said in a local newspaper that it was because the gifted teachers have the maximum number of students they are allowed.

    Why aren't sufficient resources being allocated to the gifted students? I suspect because under the current system, it doesn't earn them enough extra points on their state report card.

    ... I see eminent domain as a last resort. I might be willing to support their current action if it could be proven to my satisfaction that the new building could not be built on the existing property OR that other centrally located property could not be found. The board's unwillingness to discuss these issues in depth makes me suspicious. As other posters have stated, I believe the board has plans beyond a school building for the land. If this is the case, why not share it with the citizens? After all, it is our tax dollars that will be supporting whatever is put on that land and, for that matter, that would pay for it.

    Written by: EagleMom on April 6, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Middle School

    How would you feel if someone came in and told you they were going to take your property? Regardless, they can build a new middle school right where they are along with their $1,000,000.00 track/football field. Did the school have these delusions of grandeur that they needed such a high priced athletic field - are these professional players or school children that should be focusing on education for their futures????

    Written by: farmer1avon on April 6, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Middle School

    So, is that [a BOE member]'s ultimate plan once he gets his hands on Ms. Wolfe's property and adds her acreage to the current middle school property which will total 55 acres. I thought he only wanted "to secure 30 acres of land on State Route 83 for a new Avon Junior High School". Funny, I don't remember reading anything in the most recent issue of Avon Avenues about the school district "needing" an indoor sports facility.

    Written by: avonmomof2 on April 7, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: still

    Still, we have the problem with this action that no person or BOE or other group has really proven that there is not another site for this school. Remember Eminent Domain is supposed to be the last option not the "best option"

    A lot of talk from a FEW people in favor of this action here but where is the actual proof that there is not another acceptable location. I hope the BOE if they want to continue with this will begin to explain it all and not continue being vague and unapproachable!

    ... E.D. is to be used when no other option exist. There are other opions. So why has the BOE envoked E.D.? [a BOE member] said " ... it is our best option" What are the other options? ...

    Written by: ProudEagle on April 7, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Avon Avenues

    Does every bit of Avon need to be developed??? That is why we have this problem in the first place. Poor planning thanks to the City and LOADS OF DEVELOPMENTS. Now no room everybody! Why is that Ms. Wolfe's fault??

    Written by: watchful1 on April 7, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: Avon Avenues

    Well I am just stating what I have read from the Library of Congress about the reasons and conditions of E.D. Again i am ASKING, prove that no other "option" exist before saying lets take this option and deal with this city being divided.

    ... Example: The bus garage case. even after the "experts" stated the effects of long term exposure, the BOE put it where thet wanted. Why, because it was, again, centrally located and was in their opinion the best spot.

    Some would agree, some not! My point is they way the BOE went about this whole process was underhanded and deceitful in in eyes on many ...

    I can only imagine that everything the BOE does is scrutinized and they get tired of it. I would! However that does not release them from answering the questions of the people that elected them.

    Written by: proudeagle on April 7, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: A few observations...

    ... What sports complex? Are you talking about the YMCA? If so, that is not a building that is being funded by the school district. The city and YMCA are funding this. While the city gets its money from us, it is a separate pot of money ...

    I believe that taking a person's land through legal recourse is inappropriate. ED was on the books in order to help our country expand to the West. I don't think that our forefathers put this into our system as a means to help a public school district acquire a piece of land that it sees as the best spot to build a middle school. I'm not sure how a group can acquire land through these means and then expect to go back to its citizens and ask to support a bond issue to build a school with a clear conscious. I think that this incident is so unfortunate for both the land owner and the school board.

    Written by: jimi4370 on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: A few observations...

    ... Most of what is going on now is an attempt to cloud the real issue - a resident does not want to sell her property, and the BOE is attempting to seize it anyways.

    The exsisting site is 30 acre's - enough to house 1000 students in a 140,000 sq. foot building. That was the plan all along - rebuild on the current site - however [a BOE member] and [an administrator] have delusions of granduor and want to turn the exsisting school area into a sports complex - Per [an administrator] speaking to the Lion's club.

    I am not apposed to improving the sports facitlities; we just spent 1.5 million on the football field - but we moved here for our childrens education - participating in extra curricular activities comes second.

    We keep making the same statement - Re-build on the exsisting site - it is the right thing to do. They do not NEED the Wolfe property - they just don't want anyone else to have it - including Ms. Wolfe - the rightfull owner.

    [An administrator] and [a BOE member] are not building an outstanding school system - they are building monuments to themselves ...

    IF they were concerned about our students and the residents, they would be building multi-floor, energy efficient buildings. Everyone knows it is more cost effective to build up instead of out. Who is paying for the increased energy costs?? The taxpayers.

    Written by: AvonResident on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Golden Opportunity

    Here's the way that I see it. Many of those opposed to the eminent domain plan want to hear why the Wolfe property "is the best and only option." So start today's meeting with a statement: ...

    `The costs to "acquire" the Wolfe land and build a new middle school building outweigh the costs to raze the existing building, relocate the 7th and 8th grades for up to two years and "acquire" one of the properties on Stoney Ridge in front of the school for a second entrance/exit ...'

    Everyone has opinions, but it is hard to refute facts. There are no meeting minutes to reference or records for citizens to look at to support this BOE decision. Not one person on either side of this situation on this forum has provided any facts, so I'll do this one last time: Mr. [a BOE member] and Mr. [an administrator], please provide the information and rationale you used to make this decision ...

    Written by: rememberwhen on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: A few observations

    People that are for E.D. are usually the ones that it will never affect. You claim you'd accept fair market price if you were offered it but the land owner isn't the one who decides fair market. If it was my land it would take well over $1,000,000 plus the same amount of land in a place just as nice as Avon if not in Avon it self.

    Written by: Avon Res. on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Eminent Domain Dropped!

    Just heard on Fox News that the BOE FINALLY came to their senses and dropped the emminent domain case! Congratulations!!! The right decision has been made.

    Written by: xyz on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: ... Hire within.

    I did ask on of the board members after the meeting was over "If you do build a new school will you make goals for the contractors that they must hire 15% Avon Resident and 45% Lorain County Resident. We need make sure we give back to our community and I know there a lot of contract workers in our community.

    Written by: crystal forest on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Eminent Domain

    Good job PAC and citizens of Avon. You really hung in there. As for the BOE, I wouldn't take my eyes off the ball just yet.

    Written by: lisa on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: Re: losing focus

    Congratulations to Mary Jane Wolfe and all the residents in Avon who supported her, including the ACFC. They did a lot of good work that showed that while Avon may need a new middle school, the BOE does not have to use ED to get it done. The ACFC and all the signs had a tremendous impact ...

    Regardless of where you come down on this issue, I think we can all agree that ED was not the wise move for many reasons. Not the least was that it is supposed to be a last resort, not first ...

    While they may need to move to a second location choice, at the end of the day, I am sure the facility will be fine and will provide our students with a great facility and education in Avon.

    Mary Jane - exhale and get some rest. You deserve some peace!

    Written by: Parsonsbri on April 8, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: representation

    I just got up....whewwwww...I hope she has a goood attorney!

    Written by: highlandparker on April 9, 2008 AM

    -----------------

    Title: Re: ... Hire within.

    Do research on the Cleveland Schools funded by the OSCF and Cleveland schools. They have stipulated Community inclusion in the scope of work for the Cleveland Schools. You must have goals of a certain % of Cleveland Resident. If the contractor does not give a viable percentage of Cleveland Residents the construction manager can recommend to the board that they do not award to this contractor at that point it would be up to the board. Check it out and fight for our residents and our county.

    Written by: Crystal Forest on April 9, 2008

    -----------------

    Title: BOE special meeting

    ... Mary Jane has been put thru unbelievable stress for the past 2 months and she deserves a well earned break. She will now have time to concentrate on her health ...

    By the way - there has been 1 meeting - off the record of course - Mary Jane had nothing to say, and her attorney told the BOE to back off ...

    Our group is going to step back and allow Mary Jane to enjoy her victory. But we intend to continue to hold our elected offials accountable to the residents of our city ...

    We realize this has been a heated and emotional issue but does show that the community cares and is involved regardless of whose side you are on.

    Thanks to everyone who gave their support and time to this cause!

    Written by: AvonResident on April 9, 2008''

    Top -- Home

    BACKGROUND

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-19-08, By Rebecca Turman

    ``Group forms to fight eminent domain action

    AVON -- Meetings have been held, fliers have been distributed, a Web site has been set up, a new group has formed in the city of Avon. Calling themselves Avon Citizens for Change, a group of Avon residents have come together to share their "concerns and disappointment with the decisions of our elected officials," the Web site, www.avoncitizensforchange.com says.

    The Web site goes on to say that the group is a community action group. "Our organization is committed to protecting the interests of all citizens of Avon, Ohio," the mission states. "We will work with all residents to ensure that the politicians are performing their duties to the best of their ability and are not making decisions based on hidden agendas or personal gain."

    Tim Bresnahan, an Avon resident who is also a member of the political action group Avon Citizens Committee, is serving as the temporary spokesman for Avon Citizens for Change ...

    When asked if the Avon Citizens for Change was formed as a direct result of the Avon Board of Education's vote to move forward with eminent domain proceedings for Mary Jane Wolfe's property on Center Road, Bresnahan said, "It appears that this eminent domain proceeding against her took everything to a boiling point." "I think there's been a growing frustration with the school board," Bresnahan said. "This is the boiling point, and people are fed up. This school board crossed the line -- it's offensive -- it's the worst course this board could take in acquiring land."

    Currently, Bresnahan said there are about 20-25 people volunteering to help the Avon Citizens for Change. "There's a core group of about 10 people," he said.

    The ultimate goal of the group, according to Bresnahan, is to see "that this school board pulls back on this eminent domain action and looks at legitimately purchasing land from a willing seller." "There's a window of opportunity for them to pull back, and they need to act," Bresnahan said of the Board of Education.

    Avon Citizens for Change has already met with some resistance from the Board of Education and Avon Schools Superintendent Jim Reitenbach, Bresnahan said. During Avon Heritage North and South elementary schools' Science Night on March 13 [2008], Bresnahan said he personally distributed fliers regarding the group's formation that also informed residents of the Board of Education's March 18 meeting.

    "Our group checked with city hall to find out if we needed any permits to hand out fliers on public property; schools are owned by the public," Bresnahan said, adding that the group was informed by legal counsel that the group had a constitutional right to hand out fliers.

    However, when the handouts were discovered by board member Angie Marsiglia and Reitenbach, Bresnahan said he was told they had to be approved by the board and the school principals, and he was asked to leave school property ...

    The Avon Citizens for Change planned to address the Board of Education during the March 18 meeting, which was held after press deadline. For more information on the Avon Citizens for Change, visit www.avoncitizensforchange.com.''

    -----------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-26-08, By Rebecca Turman

    ``AVON -- The Avon Board of Education voted 3-2 in February to pursue eminent domain actions to take Mary Jane Wolfe's property at 2740 and 2758 Center Road to build a new middle school, but the issue remains a hot topic this week.

    At the March 18 [2008] board meeting, the board stood its ground on the eminent domain decision, and Wolfe sounded off on its actions, with more than 70 supporters behind her ...

    Wolfe gave her official response to the board's move toward eminent domain. "My family has always supported the schools and the community," she said. "I don't deserve to be treated this way."

    Wolfe made her stance in the matter clear. "My land isn't for sale, and I intend to pass it on to my family just as my mom and dad passed it on to us; I'm asking them to just leave me alone. I'm asking them to withdraw the vote," she said through tears.

    During the meeting, Tim Bresnahan, representing Avon Citizens for Change, said he submitted a request for documents regarding the decisions that led up to the final vote on the eminent domain proceeding. "There was one public meeting prior to the vote last month," Bresnahan said. "One meeting. That was on Jan. 10, 2006."

    At that time (2006), the district had monetary statistics from MKC Associates regarding options for a middle school. The figures were calculated in November 2005, Reitenbach said.

  • It was $19 million for seventh and eighth grades," he said.

  • "Sixth, seventh and eighth grades (altogether) was $21 million.

  • Plus athletic facilities (which the district will not build if the school will go on Wolfe's property) would be $23 million."

    [Whether or not the Board of Education acquires the Wolfe property, why can't the existing athletic facilities at the existing Middle School be used? There is something very strange about the third part of the "figures" immediately above.]

    A representative from MKC said the district would need to conduct another enrollment analysis to determine how many students would need to be housed and the costs associated with building a school to accommodate those students. The new middle school is currently projected to house seventh and eighth-graders, Smitek said ...

    During the meeting, several Avon residents shared their take on the eminent domain matter, rallying behind Wolfe. "My problem with this eminent domain issue is that there are other properties to choose in Avon," Tom DeChant said. "You are putting her in a position where she has to now fight for what is already hers. I think you can see there are a lot of people here who don't agree with what you are doing." ...

    David Vargo also shared his discontent with the board's decision. "We will not pass a levy for it," he said. "We will not forget in two years. We will not forget that we were in this room. We aren't going to support a levy for stolen property. Do the right thing. Stop this eminent domain and rebuild on the current property."

    Clark Perrin, a member of the Avon Citizens Committee political action group, shared his opinion. "You did not do a feasibility study," Perrin said. "I would not proceed with taking land until I had that feasibility study and it made fiscal sense."

    One Avon resident asked whether the Wolfe property was a "last resort" location for a middle school. "There's a difference between being the best piece of property and the only piece of property," board member Kevin Romanchok said. "There may be other properties available; that was part of my question, making the motion (to delay the vote) last time."

    Jay Pickering, whose family owns Pickering Hill Farm on Detroit Road in Avon, shared his experiences with the board and eminent domain. "You came after my family five years ago," he said. "I can't believe how uncompassionate you folks are. You don't know what it feels like to be in my shoes or Mary Jane's shoes. It would be nice if someone threatened you to take your land."

    Other than his family, Pickering said he knew of three other families in Avon that were threatened with eminent domain, though the board members did not validate his comment.

    During an interview, Pickering said he and his family "got lucky" when it came to avoiding eminent domain. The board wanted the Pickering property to build Heritage South, Pickering said. "They never came to talk to us," he said, adding that his family lives 2,000 feet from the school board office. "They just sent threatening letters. My dad taught for the district for 22 years."

    When asked what he thought made the board back down from pursuing eminent domain actions against his family, he said, "We went real public real fast. I put it on the sign, `Don't take our land.' We had all the information (regarding the board threatening eminent domain) at the market for the people to look at. They had a levy coming up just four months after that. They have no pending levy coming up (now)."

    Several residents of Bauerdale Drive, which dead ends up against Wolfe's property, voiced concerns about the plans for the school. One resident asked if the street would become an access drive for a new middle school. "I'm assuming it would be used as an emergency exit," Smitek said.

    "It seems like to me, you are picking money over people," one resident said. "I think people will spend $3 million more just for Mary Jane to keep her property. Whatever happened to human decency?"

    Bresnahan questioned why the board couldn't pull back on the eminent domain actions. "A motion, a second and a vote (is all it takes)," he said. Romanchok made a motion to put any further actions on the Wolfe property on hold for period of 90 days and to create a community-involved tax force to review alternative options for a new middle school. Romanchok's motion failed for a lack of a second.

    Since the March 18 meeting, Bresnahan said the Avon Citizens for Change group (www.avoncitizensforchange.com), which formed as a result of the board's decision to pursue eminent domain actions to take Wolfe's property, has been on the fast track.

    "We are now registering as a PAC (Political Action Committee)," he said. As a PAC, Bresnahan said the group has established a legal defense fund for Wolfe through Fifth Third Bank. "They aren't giving in," he said of the board. "They are going to disrespect the community and they are going to go after a city taxpayer ..."''

    See Eminent Domain -- Part 1

    The Latest News

    Growth News -- Top -- Home -- What's New