NORTH RIDGEVILLE — It wasn’t as fiery as the torrent of complaints leveled two weeks ago, but City Council and the administration heard from more than a dozen residents Monday night who again demanded answers and relief for their flood-damaged homes.
A number of those who spoke were owners of condominiums in the Northview Circle development on Jaycox Road.
Cynthia Martin talked of enduring flooding in her condo three times over the past 18 months, telling officials the situation has grown more severe since a number of housing projects have been built north of the condos.
Lenny Salerno, another condominium owner in a development in the Mills Creek Lane area, accused Council of not expressing any compassion or empathy for residents’ plights in the aftermath of the May 12 storms, which inundated parts of the city with up to several feet of rain and caused serious damage in a number of neighborhoods.
Salerno echoed the cries of many who lambasted Council two weeks ago when he said, “We need new sewers, not the widening of Center Ridge Road.”
A number of residents were notably upset with a longstanding Council rule repeated a few times by Council President Kevin Corcoran, R-at large, that affords residents three minutes to address complaints or questions, but does not require legislators to respond.
“This is not intended as a question-and-answer session,” Corcoran said.
The comment was met with an audible undercurrent of frustration by the 20 to 30 residents in attendance.
“When will we see some relief?” Andy Markey said. “When will we hear some answers? Talk to us. It’s ludicrous the way this town operates.”
Ana Wismer, another Northview Circle condo owner, got a round of applause when she suggested opening an escrow account into which frustrated property owners could deposit taxes “until the city fixes the problem.”
Charlotte Gordon, a Gina Drive homeowner, spoke of visiting with nearly 30 neighbors who said they would gladly take money for their homes and get out if offered by the city or another entity.
“We’re going to see eight to 10 homes empty … and lower property values,” due to homes entering foreclosure, Gordon said.
The meeting’s most emotional exchange was sparked by Randall Smith, a Gail Drive homeowner who first spoke of the flooding before he voiced frustration over having to live next to a deteriorating home for a year and a half without seeing any appreciable steps taken by the city to force a clean-up.
When Corcoran recognized Smith for a second time later in the meeting, Smith spoke of the need for more money to make repairs or improvements before saying he might wind up “in jail because I’ll shoot four of you.”
At that point, Corcoran ordered Smith to stop speaking and sit down.
“You’re done,” he said.
Mayor David Gillock later said he felt confident the city and uninsured homeowners would be eligible for some type of disaster relief with approval of a requested disaster declaration for the county by Gov. John Kasich.
Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster and City Engineer Scott Wangler both talked of responding to, and meeting with, some of the 400-plus homeowners who notified the city of damage.
Corcoran said a public meeting would be held in the near future to discuss five-year projections for infrastructure needs, including the city’s sewer system.