A meeting among county officials interested in opening a sober-living facility and those opposed to a location at the vacant former Medina Steak & Seafood restaurant did not materialize Monday night at city hall.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier and County Chief Probation Officer Veronica Perry were invited by Medina At-large councilman Bill Lamb, but they said they were unable to attend.
That didn’t keep three members of the Bankers Row Historic Neighborhood Association, in addition to another man who lived in the area, from showing up. There were also about seven or eight other interested people who were not allowed into city hall for the meeting.
Lamb said he thought it was his responsibility to try to mediate the issue.
“I’ve been promoting these neighborhoods for decades,” he said.
“I want to find a way to get the best outcome.”
Two weeks ago, Perry said she had secured a $300,000 state grant to get the project off the ground. She said the county was interested in a lease to use the former restaurant property at 538 W. Liberty St.
Property owner Ken Collins said he also is negotiating to sell the property to someone who would reopen the facility as a restaurant.
Last week, dozens of people in favor and opposed to the location came to a Medina City Council Finance Committee meeting to talk. That audience included Collier and Perry as well as residents of the neighborhood.
On Monday, the Bankers Row group wanted to present their findings to the judge and probation officer. The group said it has a list of about a dozen options instead of the restaurant location.
Beth Biggins-Ramer, president of the Bankers Row group, said she wanted to re-emphasize that the group isn’t against the center.
“We’re in support of a center,” she said. “It’s the location.”
She said she has found several shuttered restaurants in the city that could serve as a recovery facility.
“We want to help them find a facility, a facility that can service residents of the county for the long term,” Biggins-Ramer said.
Some of the properties are for sale, including “The Lantern,” 665 Lafayette Road. It’s listed at $119,000.
“We wanted to find a way to resolve this issue,” she said. “I’m trying to help both sides.”
The Bankers Row group is hiring legal counsel and having 500 yard signs printed.
Another meeting is scheduled for noon Wednesday at Medina Fire Station 1, 300 W. Reagan Parkway, to discuss the issue. It’s not known whether Collier or Perry will attend.
Bankers Row member Kevin Hutchinson said he finds it interesting the city has stayed out of the issue.
The group hopes to schedule a meeting with Collier and Perry soon.
“When (Collier) wants to meet, I can make that happen,” Bankers Row member Jessica Hazeltine said.
Biggins-Ramer said she hopes a solution can be realized.
“We went out and gathered information for him that I’d like to share,” she said. “Let us help you.”
Lamb said there might not be anything the group can do to stop the move into the facility.
“If the county says it’s going there, it’s going there,” he said. “What I want you to do is invest in your homes, not retainers (for lawyers) and signs for the yard.”
Resident Fletcher Burch said the most important thing is safety for the families in the area. He said like many residents, he’s afraid the facility will bring out bad elements.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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