The case involving Vietnam Veteran Larry Modic and his issues with the city of Akron raised a lot of questions that had no real answers. The story brought out supporters of both the city and Modic, who had his home demolished by the city of Akron.
Modic purchased the home on Manchester Road without prior knowledge of a pending demolition order from the city. The veteran planned to buy and renovate the property.
Which raises an important question: How do prospective homeowners, who are eyeing a new purchase in Akron, know if the property is being targeted for demolition?
AkronNewsNow requested a list of all the homes slated for demolition in the city for 2013.
The list, in a searchable database presented with this story, is current as of April 8th. The dates next to the homes indicate the day they were demolished, with about 350 homes altogether having their numbers up. It is searchable by street name, or by the date demolished.
While the information is presented in a sortable, user-friendly way here, that's not the case when searching government websites, or visiting with government officials.
To find the answers, it starts with finding the correct agency or city department that has the list of homes that are set for demolition.
AkronNewsNow started with a stop at the Summit County Engineering Department, since they're the ones that perform the demolitions. The first of many referrals came from here.
The quest continued by phone and e-mail from there. with Sanitarian Wayne Gregory giving a sarcastic "good luck" when handing off to the city of Akron Planning Department.
In their office, Beth Diefendorf tossed it back into the county's hands, after several unanswered calls and e-mails. AkronNewsNow decided at this point to ascended the chain of command, and knock on some higher digital doors.
The journey wasn't quite over yet. Jill Skapin, Communications Director for county Executive Russ Pry, was the next to be contacted about the situation. A response by phone message left in the newsroom said the county does not handle city demolition permits, condemnations, etc. At that point was when the trail had come full circle, going through both entities and none claiming responsibility.
The last-ditch effort for the list comes from one of the most valuable tools in the news arsenal--the Freedom of Information Act Request, or FOIA.
AkronNewsNow delivered the request, via personal visit, to City Law Director Cheryl Cunningham's office, asking for the complete list of demolitions in the city of Akron for housing code violations for the year 2013.
John York was assigned to the case, and delivered the results in spreadsheet form, several days later, without incident.
The issue brought about lawsuits, threats, and talks of new laws in the city of Akron. With hundreds more homes to meet the same fate this year, and in the future, this experience emphasizes the difficulty that homeowners run into when going after some crucial info on their potential property.
The situation also highlights the need for the city to be more responsive in making the info easier to obtain for anyone who requests it. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and there's a lot of confusion between the county and city, so greater cooperation between the two will also need to improve.
Maybe with the information out in the open for this year, a repeat of the Modic situation can be prevented.