Officials in the Town of Lorain are right to order the owners of the Bruce Towers to improve the living conditions of its residents and reduce crime, or they will do everything possible to shut it down.
The city applied to the Lorain County Common Plea Court against the two-building, 46-unit apartment complex at 5001-5003 Oberlin Ave. due to poor living conditions and widespread crime, including two fatal shootings in May.
Nearby residents and businesses, as well as the law-abiding citizens who live in Bruce Towers, shouldn’t have to put up with the negativity of the apartment complex.
Lorain’s attorney, Robert Gargasz, who represents the Ohio Multi-family LLC, the property group, said in court on September 9 that necessary repairs to the Bruce Towers apartments will take place.
However, Lorain’s chief legal officer Pat Riley said at the hearing that public safety, and not just building violations, remains a concern for city officials.
The September 9 hearing was a follow-up proceeding to the city’s lawsuit filed by Lorain’s legal department for the director of the city’s security service, Sanford Washington.
The city administration is seeking a court order to clean up conditions so bad that city officials claim the buildings are a nuisance to public health and safety.
Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James L. Miraldi, who is presiding over the case, said based on the lawyers’ discussion that there was progress in improving living conditions in the two buildings.
Miraldi, however, has set another hearing for October 28 for the city and landlords to report on further progress.
If living conditions have not improved and crime continues to surface in Bruce Towers, the city must attempt to shut down the apartment complex.
And Riley gave valid reasons because the city’s “primary concern” is security and crime.
He spoke of recent police reports from Lorain, including gunfire and break-ins, that there had been no slowdown in violent crimes since the first hearing on Aug. 3.
It is a huge problem.
Riley also pointed out that prior to the lawsuit there was no resident manager and the ownership group was non-existent.
He also acknowledged that there is progress now, because the city has gone to court.
Construction conditions can be corrected, which Gargasz says will happen.
But, crime is the concern.
Gargasz told Miraldi the owners would allow Lorain Police to park a patrol car to enhance security at all times and work with detectives to investigate the incidents.
Gargasz also believes that if a police car is ahead, drug dealers could keep moving.
This is where Gargasz is wrong.
It is not the city’s responsibility to maintain a cruiser at Bruce Towers.
It is the duty of the owners to ensure the safety of the residents.
Police fight crime in other problem areas and use other prevention methods to keep people safe.
Bruce Towers must hire his own security to patrol the area.
The city will not and should not be posting a cruiser outside of Bruce Towers, unless an investigation is underway.
Additionally, Miraldi even admitted that he couldn’t order Lorain’s police when and where to patrol.
However, he encouraged the owners and the city to work together.
Gargasz said he wants criminals to know people are watching them and will be reported to the police and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
We agree with Gargasz on this.
Regarding construction conditions, Gargasz said a contractor was hired to ensure the building meets municipal fire regulations and has sanitary conditions and real estate repairs.
Riley said there was “undeniable” progress in addressing concerns about fire hazards to residents, citing an inspection that day by the city’s deputy fire chief Greg Neal.
He also said it was not clear if pesticides were being applied correctly to kill cockroaches and bedbugs while keeping people safe, but this could be verified by Lorain County public health officials. .
Gargasz proposed renovations on one side of a building, then the other, to be more efficient for the contractor and so tenants would have a place to stay.
He added that there are times when things need to be fixed in the units, but tenants do not notify management.
So far, it appears that six tenants have moved and as many as 25 have been made aware of the resources available to help them move.
The city has appealed to local social service agencies to help, but Washington added that some residents are going to be difficult to place.
But, if these problems and problems persist at Bruce Towers, Lorain officials must use his means to shut it down.