“Like plants, humans and communities cannot not thrive in a toxic environment. The important first step in creating a healthy ecosystem is to secure our cities’ vacant, toxic, unhealthy lands. For Thriving Communities, this is the work of establishing and supporting county land banks throughout our region. We are convinced that this tool is an essential element in stabilizing our fragile cities. County land banks, technically called county land reutilization corporations, provide our counties with much-needed ability to quickly acquire foreclosed and vacant property. These land banks can safely hold a distressed property, clean its title, and prepare it for a better day. The goal is to secure vacant properties – which would otherwise attract crime, lower neighboring home values, and incur public services costs – so that they can be put to better use in the future.” – Thriving Communities Institute
In March 2011, Western Reserve Land Conservancy launched Thriving Communities Institute, a region-wide effort to help revitalize our urban centers, and named nationally known expert Jim Rokakis as its director. In April 2011 CBP engaged Mr. Rokakis to initiate a community wide land banking discussion with a variety of Stark County stakeholders, including County Commissioners and Treasurer.
With our dual strategy of Policy Work and Targeted Revitalization, CBP championed the merits of Land Banking in 2012 and was successful in assisting in the establishment of the Stark County Land Reutilization Corp (SCLRC). With the land bank now formed, CBP has been actively demonstrating how local residents and groups can use this new community development tool to improve their neighborhoods. CBP has already analyzed all six of our current neighborhoods and has submitted recommendations for both vacant lot reutilization and demolitions. CBP has also been involved in staffing discussions and expects to manage one or more standard programs for the land bank in the future.
For further information on the Stark County Land Reutilization Corp (SCLRC) please call 330-451-7986
Here is an excerpt from David Boehlke’s Canton Neighborhood Workbook as he discusses the rise and fall of Canton’s population and vacant housing stock. “Canton saw its population reach its peak in the 1950’s. By 1960, the city census data already showed a population in decline. From the high in 1950 of nearly 117,000, the city has lost nearly 40,000 residents. Based on today’s family sizes, that figure translates into roughly 13,000 units of housing. And since the city was built primarily as single-family houses, the result is thousands of vacant houses, many of which are still standing today.” – David Boehlke, Canton Neighborhood Workbook