Jerusalem Twp. gets grant to raze building

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Jerusalem Township plans to demolish a hazardous property at 11741 Corduroy Road after getting a grant from the Lucas County Land Bank, which awards grant funds to help communities promote revitalization.
        The township is participating in the Lucas County Commercial Site Clean-up Pilot Program. The demolition is being fully funded by the grant with no economic burden on township residents, according to Township Trustee Mark Sattler.
        The fire department had declared the building a nuisance.
        “It was structurally unsafe for human habitation, said Sattler. “The roof had fallen in. Part of it had collapsed in the back, and it was infested with vermin. If kids got in there and played, you don’t know if more of it could collapse. The fire department stated that if the structure caught fire, nobody would enter the building to put it out because it was too dangerous. There would be the risk of collapse. They would stay outside to try and put it out.”
A mess
        “The whole second story is down because the roof is rotten and leaking,” added Trustee David Bench. “It’s just a mess. It’s waiting for some curious kids to get inside and get hurt. The septic tank in the back just had a piece of wood across a hole. It is really, really dangerous. We’re lucky nothing bad has happened.”
        The township board of trustees applied for the grant from the Lucas County Commercial Site Clean-Up Pilot Program in December, 2021. The owner of the property, Juan Becerra, owed thousands of dollars in back taxes, according to the township.
        Initially, the program offered a $25,000 grant to raze the building, according to Sattler. But when the township received quotes from contractors, the bill was much more.
        “It came to $38,000. And the Land Bank came up with the difference,” said Sattler.
        The trustees awarded the demolition contract to Aaron Gray.
        “We have a local contractor tearing it down,” said Bench. “He could start next week, but it all depends on the weather that’s coming in. If the weather is real bad, he’s not going to start until the first of the year.”
        Gray also got the contract to tear down a house that burned down recently on Rachel Road, he said. “He was going to tear it down prior to it burning, but someone got ahead of him a little bit.”
        The township has been razing dilapidated buildings for years, said Bench.
        “We didn’t get all this Land Bank money all the time. The township was doing it ourselves. Ever since I became a trustee 12-years ago we’ve been tearing a few down every year. We have another house to tear down on Bunting. We’re proactive.”
        The commercial property has a long history in the township, according to Bench. The gray, two-level structure was the location of several businesses over the years, including the Cooley Canal Sportsman’s Club, the Wolfinger Wharf, and Becerra Pizza shop, to name a few.
        “The pizza was really good,” said Bench. “We were told it was also used for onion storage. Some of the building is double brick. The walls are really thick. There’s a lot of material there.”
        In the Facebook group “Talk of Jerusalem Township, Curtice, the Great Black Swamp and Coyotes,” many expressed fond memories of the building during their youth.
        “It definitely has a long history,” commented Lora Lajzer Marlow. “And anyone growing up and living out here since at least the 1940’s or 50’s probably has a story to tell about it.”
        “The fireplace inside was absolutely beautiful,” said Donald Tomanski. “Large and grand, with all hand laid stone.”
        Jeffrey Stahl recalled his dad taking him to a few Christmas parties at the Cooley Canal Sportsman’s Club.
        Linda Martin remembers Becerra’s having “the best pizza around.”
        Tracy Hansen thought so, too. “We were newly married and would get pizza there once a month as a splurge. It was the best pizza I ever had.”
        “So sad it was left to deteriorate like that,” commented Gary Martin. “I had a lot of good times there.”
        “Lots of memories,” commented Joann Herr, “but glad to see it go.”
        “I think everyone is in agreement,” said Sattler after reading the comments. “It’s a wonderful place of history. It’s time has come and gone. It does need to be demolished. Time to clean it up.”


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