1-18-01 Another Jacobs' Traffic Study
1-30-01 PROMISES, PROMISES
2-02-01 Update Avon's Master Thoroughfare Plan
3-31-01 Jacobs-backed committee convicted
5-2-01 Chagrin Highlands, the struggle in Warrensville
8-8-01 The Empire Strikes Back
This question will not go away: Why was land under option to Jacobs in 1998 favored with no increase in real estate tax valuation?
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAl, 9-2-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
``AVON -- ... [Jacobs Group hits Avon with $1,000,000 suit.] The lawsuit ... is an attempt to avoid roughly $1 million in assessments for a sewer through the company's property [next to Manco, site of the proposed Vista shopping center] ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-03-01, By CRAIG RIMLINGER, Morning Journal Writer
"AVON -- After a lawsuit spanning almost five years and involving two different plaintiffs, the Jacobs Group and the city of Avon have reached an agreement settling a disputed sewer assessment on land envisioned for the stalled ''Vista'' project ...
Besides the sewer settlement, another indication that the Vista project may be starting to move was action by City Council last [1-2-01] night on a traffic study commissioned by Jacobs.
The [Jacobs] study of I-90 traffic concluded that interchanges at SR 83 and Crocker Road would not meet the traffic demand of Avon by 2002, if the city's rate of growth continues. [What is the value of this study now that Jacobs has been unable to stop Stark's Crocker Park project in Westlake?]
The study, conducted by Akron-based URS Greiner Woodward Clyde, was referred to the Planning Commission last night [1-2-01].
Council approved the sewer settlement agreement at last night's work session by a 6-1 vote, with Ward 4 Councilman Jack Kilroy the lone dissenter.
''I don't think we should roll over to the Jacobs group. I think they should pay their fair share of the sewer assessment and I don't think the settlement came close enough to doing that,'' he said ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAl, 12-20-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Gift of steaks blasted ..." See full story
COLUMN from THE FREE TIMES, 1-3-00, by Roldo Bartimole
"... We get the true downtown real estate picture from former Cleveland baseball team owner Dick Jacobs, sniffing around City Council these days looking for special help. The major downtown developer of the 1980s, Jacobs continues to have real estate anxieties.
Jacobs has an empty Public Square lot where he once contemplated a twin skyscraper to the Key Building and a Hyatt Hotel to match his Marriott. The site has been a parking lot for 10 years.
Jacobs' East 9th corner remains a site with three vacant buildings, which once saw the mighty Cleveland Trust bank operations ..."
Roldo Bartimole can be reached at 216-321-2757 or e-mail at email@example.com
NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE TELEGRAM, 1-18-01, By Kristin Yarbrough
[Another Jacobs' Traffic Study]
"AVON -- ... The Planning Commission ... could make a recommendation to City Council that night [1-31-01 to ask NOACA to do a study for an I-90 interchange at Nagel Rd., the location of Jacobs' Vista project] ...
The key, [Planning Commission Chariman Jim] Piazza said would be to determine why URS [Greiner Woodward Clyde] thinks the roads will be gridlocked by 2003 when just three years ago the firm said the Avon Commons road improvements would keep traffic ... flowing smoothly for 10 years ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-21-01, By RYAN CORNELL, Morning Journal Writer
[Two steps forward, one step backward?]
"Jacobs axes Vista project
AVON -- ... ''We no longer are pursuing Vista,' ... Jeffrey C. LeBarron, a Jacobs Group director, told city officials in a letter ...
The company still has plans to develop 225 acres of land it purchased two years ago that fronts on Lear Nagle Road on the north side of I-90, LeBarron said.
Ward 1 Councilman Niels Jensen said yesterday he thinks the Jacobs group will put the land to another use, but added that he wasn't sure what that would be. [This land is industrially zoned. Jacobs should bring manufacturing plants to Avon in accordance with our master plan.]
LeBarron's letter told the Avon Planning Commission the company would like to work with the city in its review of the [Jacobs traffic] ... study ... ''In our mind, the key issue is whether the community and its public officials agree that the existing I-90 interchanges at S.R. 83 and S.R. 611 lack the capacity to adequately serve Avon's transportation needs beyond the near term.''..."
[First the Nagle Rd. interchange and then a new Vista?]
NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE TELEGRAM, 1-20-01, By Jeff Mohrman
"AVON -- ... Although we continue to hold options on certain additional land on the south side of I-90, we no longer are pursuing Vista ..., the letter stated ...
Members of the city Planning Commission will meet [Wednesday, 1-31-00] with Eric Smith, a project manager at URS, [to discuss the Jacobs traffic study] ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 1-30-01, By MARK VOSBURGH and CHRISTOPHER QUINN, PLAIN DEALER REPORTERS
``Jacobs seeks city OK to build large stores
Developer Richard E. Jacobs wants the city of Cleveland to let him build big stores at Chagrin Highlands ...
Jacobs was not available for comment last night. Drawings obtained by The Plain Dealer show Jacobs proposing four stores ranging in size from 61,000 square feet to 158,000 square feet south and west of I-271 and Harvard Rd.
Those plans surprised Warrensville Heights officials ...
[Mayor Marcia] Fudge said Jacobs officials had PROMISED not to use the property for retail. ''
More on Chagrin Highlands
NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE TELEGRAM, 2-02-01, By Melissa Dittman
"AVON - ... The Planning Commission voted Wednesday [1-31-01] to make a recommendation to Council that the city's Master Thoroughfare Plan needs to be ... studied and a consultant needs to be hired ...
Council will be discussing the recommendation at its meeting Monday [2-5-01] ...
With two differing traffic studies [one approved by USR who was paid by the City of Avon and the other, also by USR, paid for by Jacobs], [Avon Planning Commission Chairman James] Piazza said it's time the city hires its own consultant ..."
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 2-2-01, By CRAIG RIMLINGER, Morning Journal Writer
``AVON -- ... [Planning] Commission member Paul Burik ... The money would be used to hire a consultant who would work with the city to develop the parameters of a thoroughfare review, Burik said ...
Commission chairman Jim Piazza concurred with Burik. "We need to hire an expert, a traffic engineer, to help us with the scope ..." ''
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAl, 2-14-01, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"LORAIN -- A public hearing ... [2-15-01] at 7 p.m. will give residents a chance to learn about a commuter rail line planned from Lorain to Cleveland to Mantua ...
See Full Story
NEWS ARTICLE from THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3-31-01, By Tim Doulin, Dispatch Staff Reporter
``A political campaign committee backed by former Northland Mall owner Richard E. Jacobs was convicted and fined $10,000 yesterday for making false statements in TV and radio campaign ads ... '' See story.
NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 5-2-01, By LILA J. MILLS
``Warrensville sets limits to keep out big boxes
WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS - The city ... strengthened its commitment to keep "big box" retail stores out of the Chagrin Highlands office park ... '' See story.
EDITORIAL from THE PRESS, 6-27-01, By Mike Ferrari
``Easy copy, and how the chips are going to fall this November
Being a self-proclaimed sports junkie and thriving on repeat episodes of ESPN Sportscenter, I am as shocked as anyone else about something that has happened to me.
As the November election approaches for Avon, I find myself getting wrapped up in local politics, watching things that previously made my brain itch from agitation and boredom ...
Now that Avon Mayor Jim Smith has announced that he is running for another term, look for Ted Graczyk, former Avon Council President, to cut his losses and try another route ...
Should Graczyk stay in the mayoral race, a strange school of thought has developed behind his motivation that is, at minimum, intriguing.
This theory is so convoluted, and complex that I doubt the very existence of it, but nevertheless, anything is within the realm of possibility.
Some residents have mentioned to me that Graczyk has promised various positions to individuals for their support. In essence, if a person supports him and Graczyk wins, they could stand to be promoted, as the positions are assigned by the mayor.
Additionally, it is rumored that Graczyk could have the financial support of a large developer, whom he promised he would help should he get elected. Coincidentally, this developer would have a project large enough to affect the quality of living in the city of Avon.
Do I believe what I'm hearing? Nope. It is a thought process that I do not believe Graczyk is capable of ...
Of course, all of the information discussed in this column was said to me off-the-record by different people, but why would these people tell me these things?
Could it be that they simply do not like Graczyk ? Maybe. Or could it be that they are telling the truth? Not for me to decide, it will ultimately be decided by the voters ...
... this election is going to give this agency easy copy. Wait, it already has; and it's only June. ''
NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 5-16-01, By Julie A. Short
``AVON -- Whether or not Avon Mayor Jim Smith chooses to run for reelection has no bearing on Ted Graczyk's desire for a crack at the city's top position.
"I am indeed announcing my candidacy for mayor, and I will begin working hard to get my name out there and meet as many residents as I can," Graczyk said ...
... Graczyk pointed out that residential growth is a non-issue, but he is disappointed in the commercial growth within the city.
[Attorney Gerald Phillips tried to help Ted Graczyk oust Jack Kilroy from Council in 1998. ]
"... Avon Commons ... all the green space is gone. The people voted for partial green space and I don't see it. The area was supposed to have walkways and a huge amphitheater," Graczyk said. "All we have left is a small gazebo. We have more commercial development than we can handle" ... ''
[If Graczyk were elected Mayor, whom would he appoint to be Avon's Law Director?]
NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 8-8-01, By Julie A. Short
``The last major thoroughfare analysis to be conducted in the City of Avon took place in 1991 ...
Planning Commission, as well as the City Council, will soon vote on whether or not to award ... [the contract to] URS Greiner ... the lowest bidder.
"I'm in favor of a master thoroughfare study. When finished, I hope the information is unbiased and complete, and that the conclusions drawn are credible. Considering URS' past performance in the City, I question the choice ...," Councilwoman ... JoAnne Easterday said.
Easterday went on to explain. "When working for the City of Avon with money supplied by First Interstate ..., one conclusion was drawn ... that things would operate pretty smoothly ...
When working with the Jacobs Group regarding the same intersections, an entirely different scenario was portrayed ... these intersections were doomed to failure ...
I do not think it wise to reward a company with further work when the company can apparently so easily contradict itself ... I ... want to choose one of the other proposals."
... Council is in agreement that the funds to conduct the proposed $40,000 analysis will come from the Jacobs Group ... ''
[ If URS Greiner gets the contract, is it certain that they will recommend an interchange at Nagel Rd.? ]
NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 8-16-01, By Mark Vosburgh, Plain Dealer Reporter
``Cleveland buying back downtown lots that Jacobs once planned to build on
Cleveland has decided to reclaim three downtown lots that developer Richard E. Jacobs acquired 14 years ago with the promise to erect office buildings on the property.
City Council yesterday approved the sale of $4.5 million in revenue bonds to finance repurchase of the lots, on St. Clair Ave. across from the Galleria at Erieview.
Jacobs never developed the lots, which are now used for parking ...
City officials have estimated that the parking lots generate $1 million a year. ''
Contact Mark Vosburgh at:
CITY CHATTER from THE FREE TIMES, 8-16-01
``EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN
The name game? Could it be? Could lightning strike twice?
With his nemesis Mike White out of the way, thrashed 1989 mayoral candidate and former council grand poobah George Forbes is ready to announce he once again wants to run for mayor, say various sources ...
Other conjecture, however, has Forbes simply playing cute, holding his toe just an inch above water, and keeping everyone guessing. This would prevent any black candidate from gaining significant support.
Then Forbes would end speculation, not run, and give the blessing of his endorsement to Mary Rose Oakar. The reason: Oakar would be a very friendly mayor not only to Forbes, but to his main benefactor, developer Dick Jacobs; the former Indians owner needs plenty of City Hall help to unload downtown properties [and build big box stores on Chagrin Highlands] ... ''
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 8-17-01, By CRAIG RIMLINGER, Morning Journal Writer
``Avon mayor disavows grass cutting
AVON -- Conflicting accounts of whether an Avon city employee was instructed to mow some of the lawn on property owned by Mayor Jim Smith have resulted in an investigation, a predisciplinary hearing, rumors of mystery pictures and suggestions of a ''setup.''
Smith began alerting people last weekend that he had heard an approximately 20-foot swath of lawn on his property at 1610 Center Road had been mowed in June by a city worker using city equipment.
Adding intrigue were allegations that photos exist showing the lawn being mowed. Smith has owned the property for four years.
In a tersely worded memo to Service Director Gerald Plas on Monday, Smith fervently denied involvement ...
Leonard Dunmyre, an employee in the city's streets department, said he had mowed the lawn on the 0.6 acre site, according to a police incident form.
In a sworn statement given to the Avon police Tuesday, Dunmyre wrote, ''During the week of June 18th, I was asked to cut the empty lot at 1610 Center Road. Mr. Biro said to cut it for the fireworks could be seen better for the grand opening of Avon Commons shopping center.'' ...
Smith, Plas, Council President Shaun Brady and Law Director Dan Stringer all gathered on Wednesday for a predisciplinary hearing for Biro, and the minutes have Biro denying any directive was given to mow the property.
Biro said Dunmyre did not understand the instructions when told to mow SR 83 and Old Center Road, according to the minutes.
''Shaun Brady asked Mr. Biro if he told Leonard Dunmyre to mow the mayor's lot. Mr. Biro said no, they always clean it up in one pass,'' according to the minutes.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Biro said the mayor played no role in the mowing.
''Dan Stringer asked Mr. Biro if the mayor ever asked him to mow his property,'' according to the minutes.
''Mr. Biro said `No, never','' the minutes said.
Brio said he would be willing to give a statement to police reiterating the response, the minutes said.
... Smith said mowing such a small area would require about 20 seconds and that someone supposedly happened to be there [taking pictures] ... ''
NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 8-22-01, By Mike Ferrari
``Conspiracy theory Mow-gate spinning out of control
AVON -- ... Avon Mayor Jim Smith owns property throughout the city, including a small parcel of land that dead-ends on SR 83 [old Center Rd.] near city hall. It is an overgrown area that has not received very much attention until recently.
Prior to the July 4 holiday weekend, a portion of the land, which was at the time, bursting with wild grass and weeds, was reduced to grass clippings as a city employee mowed the area.
According to Smith, it wasn't until recently that he learned the grass area was cut on city time and subsequently went into a feverish effort to find out who was on his property. Smith said he learned that a city worker cut the grass because he was instructed to do so by the Street Superintendent Bill Biro ...
Smith will be opposed by former council president Ted Graczyk for the mayoral position in this November's election. Somehow connected to the incident lies Biro, who has openly expressed his support for Graczyk.
Different officials at city hall, who wanted to remain nameless, said that Biro was promised a service director's position by Graczyk should he beat Smith in the November election in exchange for his support ...
"When the incident first came to light I was extremely upset," Smith said. "Then when I realized what a botched attempt this was to discredit me and damage my efforts toward another campaign, it became very humorous." ...
Graczyk said his claims about the incident are supported by pictures that were taken by adjacent property owners during the time of the mowing.
However, Smith refuted that by saying the portion of land is so small it would only require a minimal amount of time to cut the grass. Subsequently, someone had to be waiting for it to occur, in an effort to take the picture.
The adjacent property owners who were supposed to have the pictures did not call or produce them.
"I find it hard to believe that Graczyk claims to be uninvolved, yet he has obviously spoken with Mr. Biro about the incident," Smith said.
"He [Graczyk] claimed that he was unaware of the situation at first only to say that he was aware of it six months ago. How can it be six months when Biro said it has never happened before June 28?"
Smith feels this matter was similar to a set-up because there are too many events that happened in order that had to be planned. The incidents, Smith claims, are more than simple mistakes or luck.
"I find it hard to believe that any property owner would be standing by the roadside with a camera as street crews were routinely cutting portions of any right-of-way," Smith said.
"Something does not make sense here. I have heard of the pictures, but have never seen them. I would hope that if there are people who have pictures, that they bring them forward so we can sort this mess out."
A sworn statement obtained from the police department that was made by Dunmyre is simple and to the point and refutes Biro's statements that he cut the grass on Smith's property by his own doing. Instead, Dunmyre's statement says that Biro directly instructed him to cut the grass ...
"During the week of June 18  I was asked to cut the empty lot at 1610 Center Road. Mr. Biro said to cut it so the fireworks could be seen better for the grand opening of Avon Commons shopping center," Dunmyre's statement says.
Smith said regardless of what has happened, he feels bad about a good city worker being dragged into a messy situation.
"Mr. Dunmyre has always been an excellent employee for the city and has done everything he has been instructed to do," Smith said. "By no fault of his, he followed direction from his supervisor and now is in the middle. That is not fair to him or his family."
Biro, to date has not issued a sworn statement as he said he was going to in the minutes and as of Aug. 20  has not reported to work. ''
More Documents Relating to the June 8, 1998, Decision Against Avon
Newspaper Record of XXXXX/Jacobs in Avon