The Ulp Street resident had carried a lawn chair to a vacant lot across the street from what used to be Schuster’s restaurant at the corner of Ulp and Brookfield Avenue in Masury, and settled in.
“Best show in town,” he said as an excavator pulled down parts of the building and filled up Dumpsters with recyclable metal and construction debris.
The man, who asked that his name not be published because of past unpleasantness with a former owner of the building, said Schuster’s used to serve “the best food in town.”
“Their lobster and fish was the greatest,” he said, and he could get unusual fare such as walleye there.
But, as much as he misses Schuster’s, he was glad to see the building come down.
“We don’t like an eyesore,” he said.
The building had not been used in some years, and the facade showed the lack of maintenance. Bricks on the Ulp Street side of the building had fallen onto the sidewalk.
The demolition was 10 years too late, but better late than never, he said.
“I’m happy as heck,” he said. “Everybody’s glad to see this go.”
Now that the building is down, what happens to the lot?
In the short term, the Trumbull County Land Bank, which owns the property, plans to put a fence around it to keep people from driving on it or otherwise damaging it, said Shawn Carvin, land bank director. The land bank plans to sit on the property for a while as it works with the Ohio Department of Development to satisfy the requirements of a grant the land bank received for demolition. Once the land bank is reimbursed for the cost of demo, it will solicit requests for development proposals.
Although Brookfield does not have zoning, the parcel is considered commercial and the land bank wants to see it used for something beneficial to the town, Carvin said. The land bank used the same approach with the old gas station it demolished on Route 62/South Irvine Avenue in Masury, he said. That property was sold to someone who plans to build a new gas station and possibly build shops on the old gas station parcel and neighboring property it also bought.
Brookfield Trustee Dan Suttles said he worries that the former owner of the Schuster’s property, Thomas Merchant, will be able to buy it after Merchant was delinquent on the Schuster’s property by $60,000, leading to tax foreclosure and the land bank’s eventual purchase.
Suttles said he has been assured by Carvin that the land bank does not want a scenario such as what Suttles outlined to happen.
Suttles also thanked county officials for making the demo happen after township officials deemed it to expensive to do on their own.
“That took a lot of work, a lot of planning,” Suttles said. “If it wasn’t for the Trumbull County commissioners and the Trumbull County Land Bank, that thing would still be sitting there.”
A request for development proposal will be posted on the land bank’s web site, trumbullcountylandbank.org
The following story was from our September print edition:
When you step up to the front door of what used to be Schuster’s restaurant in Masury, you don’t smell sizzling steaks or the signature fishy aroma of a lobster tank. You smell mold. It is overpowering and pervasive.
As you enter, it’s not hard to see why. Water has run through holes in the roof, pulling down ceiling tiles and insulation, and collecting in a muddy mess in what was the main dining room.
Schuster’s used to be a jewel in Brookfield, a fine-dining establishment that brought in people from all over the area, many of whom left raving about the food.
Now, the building is an eyesore and a health hazard.
Patrick Giesy is running a crew from Environmental Protection Services of Girard that was hired to remove asbestos panels in the roof. But, before they can even start that work, they have to clean out all the junk.
“This room was packed all the way,” he said of the main dining room. “You couldn’t get in it.”
It was the same way with other rooms. Arcade games, household appliances, a truck tire, prescription medications, furniture – you name it, it’s probably in there. And EPS has to get it all out, loading recyclable metal into one Dumpster, garbage into another and construction and demolition debris into a third.
“It’s kind of hard to distinguish which is which in here because everything’s smashed together,” Giesy said.
Once the building is cleared out, an assessment of the roof will be done. Giesy said he is unsure of the roof’s soundness because of the rusty I-beams holding it up.
The roof is actually three layers – transite panels made of asbestos and concrete under insulation and tar, Giesy said.
The hope is that the roof is sturdy enough for workers to get on the roof and remove the transite panels. If not, “they would actually demo the roof or try to pick it up in pieces and it would go on the ground,” Giesy said. “Once it’s on the ground, we would have a big water tank and we would wet it down and they would actually live load it (into a Dumpster).”
The panels would be wrapped in plastic.
All openings in the building will be sealed off prior to work on the transite panels.
Transite is not considered friable, meaning it does not turn to dust when you handle it.
“Just because it’s not friable doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous,” Giesy said. “You still have to have suits and respirators.”
Each action addressing asbestos generates paperwork to create a chain of custody, similar to what police investigators do when they log evidence at a crime scene. The chain of custody shows “how the asbestos actually went to the dump,” Giesy said, noting there are special dumps just for asbestos.
The work began Aug. 19, and Giesy said he expected his portion of the job would take a month. Then, the site will be turned over to Holton Inc. of Lordstown for traditional demolition.
“The demo won’t take long at all,” said Shawn Carvin, director of the Trumbull County Land Bank, which owns the property and is paying for the demolition. “We’ll take the parking lot – everything gets removed from the site.”
The entire project is expected to be complete by the end of September, Carvin said.
The demolition will cost $130,000, of which $80,000 will be for asbestos removal, Carvin said. The land bank has a state grant it is using to demo 206 properties.
The Brookfield trustees had looked into other ways of demolishing the building, but found those options too expensive. Having the land bank find funding “saved this township a lot of money,” said Trustee Dan Suttles. “I can’t thank them enough for their help on this matter.”
Suttles noted that former Trustee Gary Lees had long advocated for demolishing the building.
“I’m glad that’s moving forward,” Suttles said. “It’s been a long time in coming.”
Trustee Ron Haun said he hopes the land bank scrutinizes potential buyers of the property and sets deed restrictions, “So we don’t end up with a junk car lot.”