Bob McCormick has lived on West Monroe Street for almost 70 years. He’s glad the city is moving forward with a redevelopment project for Lions Park.
“I always called Lions Park and the west side the leper colony because nobody cared about it,” he said. “So this is a good sign.”
McCormick, 71, spoke at a public hearing Monday night discussing the acquisition of the trailer park across from Lions Park.
Carrie Handy, the city’s chief planner, said the city is purchasing the property for $130,000, and it would subsequently demolish the 15 trailers on the parcel for $15,000.
She said only two families live at the trailer park. One is the part owner of the property and would be compensated for its sale.
The other owns his own trailer, and the city may have to give him relocation money.
Handy said she is discussing the situation with the Ohio Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We’re not in any rush,” she said. “We’ll figure out with HUD what we need to do in terms of relocating him, and we’ll do it.”
Handy said the city would fund the acquisition and demolition with money from its Revolving Loan Fund.
The Revolving Loan Fund money comes from Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) funds, and the city has the right to re-allocate the money for other CDBG purposes, she said.
“We do have a pretty healthy balance ($2 million) in the fund right now, so I didn’t think using this amount of money would hurt us,” she added.
Handy also said the city has allotted about $160,000 of its 2009 CDBG funds for Lions Park and Huron Park, which will go toward new equipment and other improvements.
She’s also talking with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about possible funding to put in a small beach at Lions Park and clean up the shoreline.
City commissioner Dave Waddington, who has made Lions Park a pet project of his, said he was happy with the progress.
“It’s a great place for family picnics and there’s truly not a lot on the shoreline for the west end,” he said.
Handy said the city will hire a consultant to make a master plan for Lions Park. She said the request for proposals could be sent out by early May.
Bob Zoellner, a resident who may run for city commission in November, called the trailer park an “eyesore” and spoke positively about a renovation.
“I think Lions Park has a potential to be a gem on our west side and for the city,” he said. “I think (the demolition) could be the first step toward enhancing what Lions Park could become.”
Tim Schwanger, another resident, said he was reticent about partnering with Erie MetroParks on Lions Park.
Earlier in the hearing, Handy said Stephen Dice, the executive director of Erie MetroParks, would help guide the renovation.
Schwanger also questioned whether using Revolving Loan Fund money was the best idea. One of the fund’s primary purposes is to create and protect jobs, he noted.
But McCormick, a former fireman, said the west side needs more attention.
“I think (the park) is one of the best things on the west side,” he said. “Anything that can be done for the west side, (I’m happy with).”