Akron has a problem with vacant and blighted homes, but how bad is it?
This is the question the city is hoping to answer with a survey that will begin Monday that will involve photographing and cataloging information on every residential property.
“This will be a comprehensive tool we can use to assess the housing stock neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house,” said Akron Planning Director Marco Sommerville.
The city-wide survey will be coordinated by Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, which secured a grant to pay for the effort, and conducted by the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp. (EANDC). Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, the urban revitalization arm of the organization, has overseen similar surveys in Lorain and parts of Cleveland, though the Akron effort will be the group’s largest effort to date.
The 12 surveyors, who will work in teams of two, will wear bright green vests and use iPads to take a photograph of each residential property and input information on the condition, sending this information directly to a database that will be updated daily. The photographs will be taken from sidewalks and public right of ways during normal business hours, with surveyors not venturing onto private property, said Chris Norman, EANDC’s director of urban planning.
The survey will cover about 90,000 parcels and is expected to take three months to complete. The surveyors will start in East Akron and proceed through the city by precinct, completing 150 to 200 parcels per day, Norman said.
Cazzell Smith, a former Summit County council member who recently retired from working for the county, will oversee the survey.
Summit County completed an effort in June 2012 that found more than 4,600 vacant and abandoned residential properties in the county, with about 3,500 in Akron.
Norman said this new survey will be more focused on residential parcels in Akron and will result in an easily accessible image and information on each property. He said this will be “a level of detail that the county-wide survey did not provide.”
Norman said the survey results will help guide EANDC in its efforts to revitalize East Akron.
“This will guide our investment efforts in our area,” he said. “The survey will be informative for us to see a broader pattern.”
Sommerville said Akron will use the data to help decide which structures should be demolished with the funds the city currently has and to try to leverage additional funding.
“We will be able to determine what neighborhoods are stronger and what neighborhoods need more help,” he said.
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.