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Lorain won't pay $1.2M electric bill from shuttered St. Joe's Community Center

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    St. Joseph Community Center in Lorain, previously home to a Veterans Affairs clinic.



LORAIN — The city isn’t paying a $1.2 million electric bill in the city’s name for St. Joseph Community Center.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer said when the center was struggling under a former administration the city was trying to help it and in the process the bill was transferred to the city, but it wasn’t meant to be a permanent solution.

“This is something between FirstEnergy and the South Shore development corporation,” he said. “The bill was transferred to the city when South Shore was having a hard time, but it wasn’t meant to be forever.”

Ritenauer said since the building, which formerly functioned as a hospital at the corner of Broadway and West 21st Street in the city’s 2nd Ward, is not being managed by South Shore anymore, as it’s defunct, he doesn’t see the debt as collectible.

“The only way it could be a problem is trying to get a user in the building,” he said. “If the ownership of the building is transferred, FirstEnergy might still be able to collect on the outstanding bill.”

Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, said in addition to the outstanding electric bill, there also is a $350,000 water bill that hasn’t been paid, which he discovered after he heard a Youngstown-based developer had toured the property with interest in having a rehab clinic there.

“Because of the bad publicity with Oak Point Road medical facility, I would like to see Mercy (Regional Medical Center) pull the plug on that location and reconsider St Joe’s,” Flores said. “The 205 W. 20th St. location would be the ideal location to an area that needs revitalization.”

Mercy recently announced plans to open a new facility on Oak Point Road on the city’s west side, which has been met with some resistance by some area residents despite an approval from the city’s planning commission.

Flores said he also would support a plan to relocate City Hall to the community center site to make it more centrally located for residents and open the current City Hall space for waterfront development.

Ritenauer said demolition of the community center always is an option but at a $3 million price tag, it’s not something the city can afford.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or Follow her on Twitter at @KatieHNix.

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