CLEVELAND — The property owners of a building off Broadview Road in the South Hills part of Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood have vowed to rid its parking lot of broken bottles, burned debris and other refuse after it was illegally dumped and partially set ablaze earlier this month. If the illegal dump site isn't remediated, an informal group of residents have vowed to do it themselves.
Located in the 4700 block of Broadview Road near Portman Avenue, the non-descript, single story building blends into the backdrop of the brick-clad buildings around it. That is, until, you glance at the parking lot.
"It looks like a mini eviction and somebody tried to burn it up," said Marlon Brown, the owner of nearby Legoheadz Barber Saloon, as he stepped over the charred debris and broken bottles. "There are tarps and old clothes and somebody attempted a spaghetti dinner off in the corner."
Several boxes of generic pasta are oddly strewn across the parking lot next to the spent fireworks. A stack of blue tarps, melted and fraying, appear to have been set on fire. A nearby mattress had been completely immolated, exposing the springs supporting it.
Brown, a business owner who works and lives in Old Brooklyn, is active on several neighborhood Facebook groups where the typical, daily musings concern lost pets and inquiries of whether bulk pickup is this week or next. Early Friday morning, a post about the state of the American Druze Society building across from the beloved Metropolitan Coffee caused a stir.
"This is my home. Not necessarily this lot but this whole neighborhood is my home," Brown said. "It has to be done. If somebody doesn’t do it, it will just stay like this."
According to county property records, the building located at 4730 Broadview Road is owned by the American Druze Society, an advocacy organization for the Druze, an ethnic and religious minority in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon. The national organization has numerous chapters across the United States, including Ohio.
A representative for the ADS' Ohio Chapter said the illegal dumping occurring on their property sickened the organization. Once members became aware of it, they began making arrangements to have the property cleaned up as quickly as possible.
The ADS took over the property in early 2017 after the Knights of Columbus Club of Cleveland moved out. The chapter representative from ADS said the organization has only been able to use the property sparingly over the past 18 months in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The representative said the trash and debris on their property is not a reflection of the organization.
"I don’t think it brings the neighborhood down per se because it’s a great neighborhood. It will always be a great neighborhood because the people are what make the neighborhood. But these are just things you don’t want to see," Brown said. "It’s more of a morale thing than anything else."
Although the ADS appears to have every intention of cleaning up the property, Brown said he'll be there this weekend if it isn't. It's the people that make neighborhoods what they are -- not the buildings, he said.
"Myself and some of the guys at the Marathon gas station decided that if it wasn’t cleaned up by Sunday, we were just going to go ahead and clean it up," Brown said. "The people in the neighborhood, exactly, we’ll get it done."