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Akron property survey underway

5/29/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Workers in teams of two photographing 98,000 parcels

The individuals pictured above will be working in teams of two as part of a vacant property survey in the City of Akron. Workers will take photos of all 98,000 parcels in the city. They will wear green vests, stand on sidewalks or in city rights-of-way and photograph houses and lots using iPads.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Ryzner
AKRON — The City of Akron has begun a survey aimed at determining the number of vacant residential structures and the condition of all properties in the city.

The survey began May 19 in East Akron and involves photographing all properties in the city.

Those conducting the survey are working during normal business hours and are dressed in bright green vests. The 12 surveyors work in teams of two and gather information while on sidewalks and public rights-of-way. They use iPads to take photographs.

The citywide survey, which is coordinated by Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute and being conducted by the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp. (EANDC), will cover approximately 98,000 parcels and take about three months to complete.

“The foreclosure crisis hit Akron hard, but we are a tough city; we survived it and we remain strong,” said EANDC President and CEO Grady Appleton. “This study is critical to determine our next steps. We are happy to partner with the City of Akron and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute to gather this important information.”

The goal of the study is to provide city officials with information that can be used to prioritize which structures should be demolished with available funds and to determine the need for additional demolition funding.

City of Akron Development Services Manager Abraham Wescott said the survey will provide the city with better data on the vacancies and occupancies of the properties in the city, which can be used to obtain funding for the reutilization of vacant properties.

The survey also will provide better data in respect to the condition of the city’s housing stock, he said.

The survey does not cost the city any money, according to Wescott.

“We’re just really glad that the Western Reserve Land Conservancy Thriving Communities Institute approached us about doing this survey,” Wescott said. “It helps us tremendously with a need that we’re going to address.”

Project officials said the survey will quantify the current need for demolition in Akron and assist the city in accessing the nearly $60 million in demolition funding available to Summit County through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Funds.

Sarah Ryzner, director of projects for the conservancy, said several communities have had similar surveys conducted, including Detroit, and more locally, East Cleveland and Lorain.

The survey, she said, will provide a “comprehensive inventory of all the parcels in the entire City of Akron to really get a true picture of the vacant landscape and the general condition of the housing” to allow the city to plan accordingly.

Ryzner noted the conservancy interns who are conducting the survey are a group diverse in age and experience, but have one thing in common.

“All of the surveyors are Akron residents or have some connection to the City of Akron,” she said.

The survey began in Ward 7 and won’t move into West Akron for several weeks, according to Ryzner.

For more information on the survey, contact Chris Norman, EANDC’s director of urban planning, at 330-962-7297 or cnorman@eandc.org.

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