The end is in sight for the historical Lynch house.
An ordinance authorizing a lease agreement between the city of Solon and the Solon Historical Society failed before City Council Tuesday, signaling the demise of the century house to be razed in the coming weeks.
“It really saddens me,” Councilman Robert Shimits, president of the Solon Historical Society, said following the meeting. “I’ll look and see if there are any options, and if not, it’s gone.”
By a vote of 3-2, the ordinance, which called for the society to place $300,000 in an escrow account for the repairs and renovation of the home, among other provisions, was supported by Councilmen Jeremy A. Zelwin, Robert N. Pelunis and Marc R. Kotora. Opposing the ordinance were councilmen William I. Russo and Eugene Macke Bentley.
Abstaining from the vote was Mr. Shimits and Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany, a board member of the society. Four affirmative votes were needed for passage, Law Director Thomas G. Lobe said.
Following the meeting, Public Works Director William Drsek said the home, at 34025 Bainbridge Road, is coming down. He said he will obtain up-to-date cost estimates on its demolition.
Mayor Edward H. Kraus said his feeling all along was that the society would pay for everything, but ultimately City Council has spoken.
“It is their ultimate decision,” he said. He commended members of council for doing their due diligence in coming to a decision, including most members visiting the Lynch home and seeing its condition.
“I don’t fault council,” Mayor Kraus said. “They took the time to see the home.”
He said they saw the challenges that were involved in bringing it up to a safe condition.
“It was going to have to be first rate and council struggled with that,” Mayor Kraus said. “Whether you are for or against it, I appreciate everyone’s efforts.”
Mayor Kraus added that the home is not “quote unquote a historic house like the Bull home or the historical society, but it is a significant property for the community as it is 100 years old.
“Will I shed a tear when it comes down? Absolutely, because it is a part of our history,” Mayor Kraus said. “But council made its decision and we will move forward. It is a decision they did not take lightly.” He said there are great plans for the site moving forward.
Prior to the vote, Mr. Russo outlined once again his objections, stating that saving the home does not align with the city’s master plan. The state of the current historical society is not such that he has faith the Lynch home would be used for only storage, he added. He did commend Mr. Shimits and his wife Mary on their work educating the public about Solon’s past.
“My opposition to this ordinance has nothing to do with people involved in the historical society,” Mr. Russo said. “Bob and Mary (Shimits) have done an outstanding job. They continue to wear outfits of old time Solon, and currently Bob is providing a pictorial history of Solon on Facebook. This allows longtime residents to learn about Solon.”
Among parts of the signed lease, the historical society had agreed to place $300,000 into an escrow account for the repairs and renovation of the home and to place an additional $10,000 into a Maintenance Escrow account for ongoing upkeep of the structure.
The historical society had hoped to keep the home to expand the historical society and to provide office and research space, additional storage and to have an additional exhibit space. Members had indicated that they had the money to do that.
Mr. Zelwin said prior to the vote that he did not support the city putting any of its own funds into the project, but if society members wanted to restore the house up to city standards with their own money, he was in support.
The safety and public properties committee voted at a past meeting to raze the home, but that decision never went before the full City Council. Mayor Kraus had said he did not have the information at that time that the society would pay for it.
“I think this has gone on long enough,” Mr. Russo said prior to the vote. “We need to make a decision and move forward.”
“At this point, I don’t know if there are any options,” Mr. Shimits said “If there are no options, the house gets razed, and it’s really a shame.
“We had such a beautiful Winterfest, and they topped it off by bulldozing a city-owned century home,” Mr. Shimits said of the citywide bicentennial event.
“It has good bones,” he said, pointing out the potential of the house.