TOLEDO, Ohio — Neighbors are taking action against the owners of a building they say has got to go.
They call the property on West Woodruff Avenue both an eyesore and a danger to their central Toledo neighborhood.
Broken windows and a somewhat boarded-up building is the view outside homes in the Collingwood Springs neighborhood.
"A blighted building that has not been attended to properly and is just, at this point, it's a safety hazard for the children, the elderly. You don't know what's going on in here," said Crystal Echols, a seven-year resident of Collingwood Springs.
Neighbors who live around the building near Collingwood Springs say they are fed up with how it looks.
Thomas Hodrick, who has lived in the area for 16 years, says it's been like this for years.
"Pretty much bringing the neighborhood down, you know. 'cause you can have people come in and just do all kinda stuff. Maybe drugs. It can bring a whole lot of stuff," said Hodrick.
It's prompted them to send a demand letter to the owner.
The Lucas County Auditor's database shows a group called Cathedral Ministries Inc. owns the property.
Its address is listed on Strayer Road in Maumee, which is the same address as "The Church on Strayer" which has locations in Maumee and Fremont.
Neighbors are demanding "The Church" clean up and secure the building, tear it down or sell it.
"Myself, we've all put our blood, sweat and tears into these houses. We're all landowners and like I said we put a lot of effort into bringing these houses around," said Steve Moore who has owned his home at Collingwood Springs since 1985. "So that's why I say it's an invested interest. We want to keep the neighborhood nice."
On Wednesday, representatives with Cathedral Ministries reached out to WTOL-11, responding to the complaints.
"The accusations and implications that we have not attempted to maintain the facility are false. Through the years, we have properly maintained this facility which has been utilized for ministry purposes," their statement read. "In the last seven years, the building and grounds have been vandalized, costing more than $100,000 in damages. The building has been boarded up five different times, only to have the boards removed by vandals."
A city of Toledo spokesperson says Cathedral Ministries had a court date about the property's condition last September, but no one from The Church on Strayer showed up.
"I can not allow my girls that are of 17 and 15 years of age to walk over to this side. You know, we happen to have dogs also and this is not safe," said Echols.
City officials said there have been four calls to Engage Toledo this year and two last year.
Toledo workers mowed and cleaned up, then sent the bill to the owner.
The letter sent to the Church on Strayer signed by the neighborhood group can be read below:
To the leadership and congregation of The Church On Strayer,
In 2005 you purchased 350 W Woodruff. You have allowed this property to deteriorate and become a nuisance and blight on our neighborhood. It is an ongoing and immediate danger to children and hazardous to everyone in this area.
At this time the property is overgrown with weeds, the windows are broken and the building is open to the elements, children are vandalizing and endangering themselves around it and inside, and homeless people are living within.
No agents or activity from your church has been seen here in over two years. This letter is a demand from the neighbors for you to act immediately: secure the building, demolish this eyesore, or sell it to someone who will not forget about it as you have. Whatever you intended to do with this building you haven't and it is years past time to move on. You are an unwelcome and harmful presence in this neighborhood.
Cathedral Ministries' response Wednesday reads as follows:
"For many years, Cathedral Ministries has provided much-needed services for single moms, including purchasing cars, oil changes, etc.
In addition, Cathedral Ministries has participated in helping families and children in the central city. It is always our desire to be a ministry that helps others.
The accusations and implications that we have not attempted to maintain the facility are false. Through the years, we have properly maintained this facility which has been utilized for ministry purposes.
In the last seven years, the building and grounds have been vandalized, costing more than $100,000 in damages. The building has been boarded up five different times, only to have the boards removed by vandals.
During the past five years, much garbage has been dumped on the grounds and inside the building. Two months ago, we contracted with a construction company to secure the building in a more permanent fashion to prevent further vandalism.
On Thursday, September 16th, 2021 I met with the contractor for discussions concerning what needs to be done. Like many businesses, they are very understaffed, thus the delay.
Within the next ten days, the building will be properly secured, the grounds thoroughly cleaned. We will closely monitor the facility once the construction company has completed its work.
We simply ask for anyone with information concerning the repeated vandalism to come forward with that information by reporting it to the police."