“Error” results in Brooklyn Centre house demolition
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, July 2007) Brooklyn Centre residents saw their hopes of saving a historic house in the neighborhood demolished (literally) on the morning of Saturday May 19th when residents witnessed three men with “a rented machine with treads and a clamshell arm” tearing down the house at 2606 Riverside Avenue. Word of the demolition was posted by Saturday evening on the Brooklyn Centre-based Save Our Land blog by Tim Ferris, the witness quoted above.

Informed by residents about what had happened, Ward 15 Councilman Brian Cummins attempted to follow up on why the house that he had requested removed from a demolition list had been destroyed. In a May 22 letter, Cummins said “the boarded-up, condemned house located at 2606 Riverside Avenue was demolished in error in what appears to be a case of a new aggressive contractor acting without full authority from the City of Cleveland’s Building and Housing Department.”

Cummins said the contractor, F & S Satka, claimed to have won a bid for the demolition on May 16th. Cummins said his office learned from the Building and Housing Department that the contractor did not have “Notice to Proceed”, another document necessary to go forward with the demolition.

Cummins’ letter indicates that his office emailed Building and Housing on April 2 and May 2nd to indicate the house should be taken off the priority list for demolition.  Building and Housing’s May 3rd reply indicated that Building and Housing staff had met with Mr. Pigoni, who planned to renovate the house. Cummins said at that point his office assumed the property was no longer slated for demolition.

In a follow-up email to the Plain Press, the Councilman indicated that the property’s new owner, Chuck Pigone,  had not yet received title to the property. “The closing of the purchase was in process at the time of the demo,” said Cummins.

Councilman Cummins said he has arranged a meeting with Building and Housing Department Director Ed Rybka and staff to get additional information and to help avoid a future similar occurence.

On Wednesday May 23rd, the Save Our Land blog featured a cartoon by artist Ralph Solonitz from the Cool Cleveland website. The cartoon shows a front-end loader demolishing a house with sold sign in front of it.  A posting by Tim Ferris that follows the cartoon includes the letter from Councilman Cummins, a photo of the boarded-up house prior to demolition, as well as a list provided by the councilman of houses in the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood currently listed as “Tentative Demolition Priorities.” The information from the councilman, also sent by the councilman to the Plain Press, includes a list of the number of vacant and abandoned structures per street in the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood.

In discussion on another local blog, realneo.org, those posting comments on the demolition under the heading “Rules of the Game” raise some questions about how a stay of demolition should be filed. One posting says the actual owner of the property would have to file a stay with the building department and that an email from the councilman would not suffice. Another posting says the owner of the property is Charter One.

(Note: The Plain Press checked the County Auditor’s website on 6/19/2007. The County lists the property owner as CCO Mortgage)


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