19 Troubleshooters get answers on vacant building in Akron

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 8:10 PM EDT
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AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Neighbors in Akron want something done about a vacant school, turned eyesore in the community.

We first reported on the story in March.

Since then, we’ve tracked down the owner to get his side of the story.

The old Goodrich Middle School was supposed to become a gym and community center for kids with various uses, like basketball courts, tutoring, and mental health treatment.

Jimmy Gooden had a big dream for the vacant property on Lafollette Street.

After his nonprofit took over the facility in 2019, he was well on his way.

“I put $50,000 into the facility as far as the gymnasium,” said Gooden. “We had youth organizations playing, we had a lot of things going on there every day.”

But then the facility shut down for more renovations in 2021, and Gooden says that’s when vandals took over.

“That’s when they just went ballistic,” said Gooden. “They started taking some of the construction stuff, it was just unreal.”

He says people stole most of the copper, broke into windows and left a path of destruction behind.

“Once the vandalism started, we just had too much to keep it going as a community center,” said Gooden. “Because now you gotta have security all the time, you gotta have a whole bunch of stuff that other normal community centers don’t have.”

That’s when the dream turned into a nightmare.

Gooden didn’t have enough money or resources to continue his community center.

Instead, he paid an abandoned building fee.

When we reached out to the city, they said it was up to the owner to address the property issues.

But weeks after our story aired, it seems the city changed its mind.

All of the trash was cleaned up. Gooden said he received a nearly $400 cleaning bill from the city.

And even better news, Gooden says a new owner will take over the property in December, with plans to tear the building down and build new homes.

The property will even have an urban farm behind it, called the Godrich Food and Farmers Project.

Big changes coming to what became an eyesore for the community, and it all started after the 19 Troubleshooters stepped in.