With others interested in buying the East Akron Community House building, Akron plans to purchase it instead.
The Akron City Council approved legislation Monday night that allows the city to buy the EACH building, which is currently in foreclosure.
City officials and council members were aware of other entities that were inquiring about buying the building and putting it to a different use than the educational, social service and recreational programs that have been housed there for more than a century. They were eyeing the 550 S. Arlington St. building for a potential charter school or office space, said Council President Garry Moneypenny.
“This enables us to get in there and get control of the building,” he said. “It is a valued asset of the east side.”
Moneypenny said Fifth Third Bank, which holds the mortgage for the EACH building, has said it would be willing to sell its interest to the city for the amount owed on the building, which is approximately $375,000. The building has been appraised at about $1.4 million.
Several people spoke during the public comment period of Monday’s council meeting, thanking the council for supporting EACH and urging a continuation of the programs that have been offered there. They also said the building needs to be used more than it has in recent years.
“It’s a real community resource and we need it,” said Damareo Cooper, a community activist and newly appointed EACH board member.
Tara Moore, an East Akron resident who volunteers at EACH, said EACH is vital, especially in providing kids a safe place to go.
“If these doors are closed, I am very scared,” she said.
Mayor Don Plusquellic has made it clear that the city doesn’t ultimately want to own the building, but wants someone else to take on this role. Fifth Third Bank officials have told the city they no longer want to associate with EACH, though they are willing to sell the building to the city.
The Ohio attorney general is investigating complaints filed by three elected officials alleging negligence and dereliction of duty by EACH leaders. The agency has lost nearly all operating funds and programs and is being sued by a former employee.
Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples, an EACH board member who abstained from voting on the EACH legislation, invited council members June 23 to an open house being held at EACH from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. She said this will show them the programs that are being run out of the building this summer, which include breakfast and lunch for low-income youth, basketball, and Project LEARN, an adult education effort. These programs are renting space in the building and aren’t being run by EACH.
Bradley Reeves, the EACH board’s interim president, did not return a phone message seeking comment Monday.
In other business, City Council and Summit County Council on Monday approved legislation that guarantees a loan for the Akron Urban League under a refinancing deal aimed at saving the agency money. The city and the council are replacing a previous agreement with a new guarantee of a term loan from Fifth Third Bank for $2 million to refinance bonds for the Urban League building and a $100,000 line of credit to help the agency with operating expenses. The city and the county will evenly split the guarantee.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmith and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith. Read the Beacon Journal’s political blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/ohio-politics. Beacon Journal reporter Rick Armon contributed to this report.