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Neighbors, Olmsted Falls disagree over who should pay to fix a bridge on private property

Posted: 6:49 AM, Dec 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-08 00:18:20Z
Who should pay to fix this bridge?

Hidden away from the main streets, East River Road seems like something out of a fairy tale.

"I love living back here. We consider this is our paradise," said Janet Guzik.

The entrance to paradise is what's causing the problems.

Cones and barriers keep cars from going over the bridge since a hole opened up on the right side.

The small bridge over Baker's Creek was first built in the early 1900s. About a century of repairs was no longer enough a few years ago when a hole started to form and the bridge was shut down.

"No vehicles can get across the bridge," said Ted Nyland, who says he owns about 40 percent of the bridge.

Baker's Creek runs underneath the bridge through a hole in the bridge's fence.

What's not up for dispute is that the bridge needs to be fixed. The big question is who should pay.

The city plan was to fix the bridge for about $110,000 and split the cost with the properties nearby which use or own the bridge since the bridge and the road it serves are both on private property. 

Some homeowners say they'd be willing to pay for the repairs right away, but that's not a unanimous decision.

Part of the bridge's support structure is visible as asphalt falls away.

"I would have been happy to contribute," said Mary School, who lives down the road from the bridge. "But nobody is going to make me pay for something I don't own."

School says she's never had to pay to maintain the bridge before and doesn't want to start now. 

The city's plan to fix the bridge has been delayed because Nyland took the city to court. He doesn't need the bridge to get to his driveway.

"We shouldn't be assessed because we receive no benefit from the bridge here," said Nyland. "It's just on our property."

Ted Nyland says he doesn't have a problem with the city plan to fix the bridge, but he just doesn't want to be responsible for covering some of the cost.

Court records show the original case got thrown out, but now it's going through an appeals process. The city won't comment on pending litigation.

For now, legal delays leave paradise in limbo.

That means the only way in or out for people who live in the homes that previously used the bridge is through a dirt access road that connects to a newer development.

"[It's] pretty much a mess," said Guzik, referring to the access road.

Large puddles fill with water along the access road that serves as the only access in or out for roughly 10 homes in Olmsted Falls.

Guzik says her kids have to brave the path to get to the bus stop and even in a car, the trip is a tough one.

"Anybody who doesn't have a higher car, I feel sorry for because you scrape the bottom," said Guzik.

The access road runs between two homes in a development built more recently than the homes along East River Road.

Neighbors say they're still friendly, but it's not making it any easier to see eye to eye.

"I don't think that there is going to be a resolution to it," said School.

Since the initial estimate of $110,000 to fix the bridge, Olmsted Falls tells News 5 a more recent estimate is now $130,000.