EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Harland Robertson feels lucky to be alive after a wall from a vacant East Cleveland apartment building next door collapsed into his driveway while he was taking out his garbage on Sat. Dec. 11.
Roberston showed News 5 how the pile of bricks and debris trapped his car and other tenant vehicles until the city could clear away the mess.
Robertson and other residents and wondering when the City of East Cleveland will take down the vacant condemned structure, which according to Cuyahoga County records is owned by East Cleveland, City of Land Revitalization.
"Something said look-up, and I looked up and it’s coming down in wave," Robertson said. "I’m taking out my trash, so immediately I drop the trash and run inside the garage.”
“I could have lost my life at the end of the day, something has to be done with this. I had to miss work today unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to work, so hopefully, I won’t lose my job.”
East Cleveland community activist Justyn Anderson told News 5 East Cleveland has known about the potentially hazardous property for years.
“It should have been torn down decades ago, so it’s an environmental hazard," Anderson said. “The rest of this building could collapse at any moment; the time is ticking, and lives are at stake. This building is long overdue and it’s an emergency situation.”
East Cleveland Councilman Nathaniel Martin told News 5 he's hoping significant federal pandemic dollars will be used to take down potentially hazardous homes and buildings in 2022 but said the effort won't be effective unless that city determines which structures are the biggest potential danger and take them down first.
“The administration and the council, we have to agree and prioritize, prioritize, this is a priority," Martin said. “The big buildings cost more to tear down than a house, but we need to tear them down especially when it comes to people who can’t go to work because the building is falling down.”
News 5 contacted the office of East Cleveland Community Development Department Director Melran Leach, and the city told us it hopes to have the building taken down in the coming weeks. News 5 attempted to reach out to the office of East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King, but the office voicemail box was filled.
Meanwhile, Robertson said he and other residents living near the vacant apartment building are thinking about moving to other cities to escape the potential hazard.
“Somebody has to do something, it’s ridiculous, you got raccoon coming out of there," Robertson said. “A lot of people here are just ready to go, and I’m one of those residents that’s ready to go.”