University Heights demolishes two city-owned Silsby Road houses near city hall

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — City Council held a brief, special online meeting Wednesday (Nov. 4) during which it voted to declare as public nuisances, and to demolish, two Silsby Road homes.

Acting quickly, the city had those homes demolished on Thursday (Nov. 5). The city-owned homes were located near city hall, and were next door to each other, at 3954 and 3958 Silsby Road.

“We have, from time to time, sought to obtain properties that are adjacent or near to city hall, or adjacent to other city properties as a matter of land acquisition,” Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan told council at the start of the meeting. “And we recently, that is last year, in 2019, we demolished a property, and used funding from the county land bank to do that, to demolish the property that was commonly know as the ‘white house,’ that was at the corner of Silsby and Saybrook (Road).

“The two houses that are next to (the former white house site) are the subject of discussion here.”

The house that was at 3954 Silsby Road, Brennan said, was commonly known as the “yellow house.” “The yellow house is in very sad shape,” he said during the meeting. “It has a lot of exterior violations. It has been in this condition for some time.

“Due to its proximity to the (city’s) building department (a city-owned house at 3962 Silsby Road), there have been times when residents who have violations on their houses see this (yellow) house two doors down from the building department and they ask why is this house allowed to exist in its present condition when I’m being written up. And they have a point.

“The thing is, this property should either be brought up to code or, the only other alternative would be that it should be torn down.”

Brennan said that former housing manager Patrick Grogan-Meyers, before he left University Heights to work for the city of Maple Heights, arranged for money to be obtained from the county land bank two have the homes at 3954 and 3958 Silsby Road demolished. The money was obtained just before the pandemic brought on a shutdown of city hall in March, and the matter of demolishing the two homes had not again arisen until Wednesday’s meeting.

Brennan said that “there are extensive issues with the property (at 3954) which would require tens of thousands of dollars to repair, were we to bring the house to code.”

The mayor said that the property would be made a green space and that demolition would clear “the way for the vision of what’s to come.” While Brennan did not expound on what may be to come, he has talked in the past about a need for a more modern city hall and more needed space for city operations. Both the building department and police detectives use former residential homes near city hall as offices.

When asked for comment after the meeting, Brennan, in an email, said of future plans, “We are working on a strategic plan for the city, part of which includes a facilities plan. This plan will consider how we use these properties.”

City Planner Brendan Zak said the home at 3954 Silsby is especially in a state of disrepair because it has been used by the city’s fire department for training.

As for 3958 Silsby, Brennan said it is a more recent city acquisition. It had been occupied for many years by an aging resident who had a chronic health condition. The city bought the brick house from the resident’s family after she moved into a long-term care facility. “It is a house that would require serious, significant work and updating,” Brennan said.

This house was located between the building department house and the yellow house.

Council approved both measures by 5-0 votes.

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