Cleveland Mayor: flyer spreads fear, falsehoods among neighbors
CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -- Dennis Dates has known no other home but 1545 Blythe Avenue SE, in all of his 56 years. "We're like one big family back through here," he says. We know about each other, care about each other."
So he wasn't prepared when a flyer hit his door, and hundreds of his neighbors in Cleveland's Central City Area Memorial Day. It warned "your homes and businesses are targeted for demolition and redevelopment. No joke."
The flyer alleges that government officials will cite property owners for blight or nuisances, and may resort to taking their land through eminent domain. "I was really shocked about that," he says. "Don't know what's gonna happen."
"Some fear that we're gonna go in and take their property," Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland tells City Council members Monday. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Cleveland's Comprehensive Plan isn't written yet. But it's "Draft Goals" reference that many of the Depression-and World War II- era homes south of the soon-to-be-vacated Whirlpool plant the whirlpool plant need major repairs.
The Goals also urge that city leaders promote renovation. Or, building new market-rate homes, condos or apartments to boost diversity and average income.
"How will we be paying for this development," Mayor Rowland asks, repeating language in the flyer. "I don't know what they're talking about!"
Three weeks later, the 'concerned citizen' who claims authorship of the flyer has not come forward to identify himself or herself. Several neighbors report seeing a man and a woman placing the flyers, but neither would say who he or she represents.
"Maybe it's gray area whether any crimes have actually been violated (sic)," Mayor Rowland says. "But I think whoever's doing this needs to be exposed to the public."
Monday, Council members approved Rowland's resolution to ask Cleveland Police and the District Attorney General to try to determine who's behind the flyer and why.
"We should have a draft of the plan ready for residents to see by the Fall," Planning Director Greg Thomas says. "There'll be plenty of opportunities for input."
Dennis Bates wants more than promises that any redevelopment plan will protect the home he inherited from his parents.
"Fix up some of the houses," he says. "But basically, just leave it alone."