WHEELING - East Wheeling property owner Jerome Poynton had not moved out of his 15th Street residence as of this morning despite losing a court battle to save his buildings from the wrecking ball.
Poynton, who resides on 15th Street, was supposed to vacate his properties by midnight Monday, but after his attorney contacted City Manager Robert Herron Monday afternoon, his move has been delayed. However, Herron said Poynton absolutely will have to leave the property soon.
"We don't know yet what that date is. We are working on it," Herron said this morning.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Crews with Edgco Inc. of Lansing begin removing structures in East Wheeling on Monday to make way for the city’s East Wheeling sports field project.
He said Poynton and his attorney are conferring, and added, "We have been up front with Mr. Poynton from the start. We are going to be working on a definite date."
Herron reiterated that Poynton was notified on March 23 that he would have to be out of his home by April 30. It was on March 23 that Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht upheld the city's eminent domain proceedings acquiring Poynton's properties. Poynton's appeal to the state Supreme Court also was rejected last week, allowing the April 30 deadline to remain.
Several men who said they rent from Poynton were upset Monday that they were being evicted.
City officials said they notified the property owners months in advance and the property owners are responsible for notifying their tenants.
The city had acquired Poynton's property and that of numerous building owners in the area of 15th and 16th streets between Wood Street. The city plans to develop a community sports field in the space and provide upgrades to the Elks Playground which borders the sports field. The project has an estimated pricetag of $2.5 million. The project was announced in 2010 by Herron and Mayor Andy McKenzie. Poynton is opposing McKenzie in the mayoral race set for a vote on May 8.
The original plan showed a practice field for soccer, lacrosse and football and a running track. Some modifications have been made to the proposed plans including transposing the playground and basketball courts so that the playground equipment would sit between the field and courts as an added safety measure for the younger children using it.
To date, the city of Wheeling has spent $670,000 to acquire and abate the properties in the block of 15th and Wood streets. The remainder of the funding has not been identified but city officials are confident the project will proceed.
On Monday morning, heavy equipment was moved into the area by Edgco Inc. which is contracted for the demolition work. The structures will be removed leaving the basements which will be filled in. Fencing is being installed around the area to keep onlookers out of harm's way during the demolition work.