The Hilltop community wants an abandoned shopping center cleaned up, but its been stuck in environmental court and the appeals process for more than 10 years.
According to state records, the Briggs Road Shopping Center, located on Briggs Road, was founded by Patrick Tonti in 1959. The structure closed in the 1970s and has since fallen into disrepair.
“You have to drive past that, its an entryway,” said resident Kristi Crissinger. “Thats what were welcoming people to Brookshire with, that building.”
A contempt hearing will be held regarding the property at 9 a.m. on Nov. 5 in courtroom 15c at the Municipal Courthouse, 375 S. High St., Columbus.
Court records show the building was inspected in 2005. City inspectors found the building to be unsecured, partially collapsed, corroded support beams and structurally unsound.
“Since its closure, neighbors have (allegedly) witnessed prostitution in broad daylight, open dumping, drug dealing, graffiti, 10-foot decayed roof segments tossed in their yards after storms, vandals and numerous vectors, onsite,” said resident Natalie Farber.
In 2008, Judge Harland Hale ruled that the building was a nuisance and ordered the property to be demolished. Court records show the ruling was challenged by owner Thomas Tonti, but the appeal was found without merit.
The Court of Appeals of Ohio dismissed further appeals from Tonti in 2009, court records show.
“As you can see this case has been going on for years, every citizen has the right to appeal a hearing,” said Assistant City Attorney Kristen Kroflich. “He has exercised that right.”
Kroflich said the Nov. 5 hearing is in regards to a contempt of an injunction from 2002. Following the demolition of a segment of the property, Tonti agreed to abate graffiti, debris and inspect the grounds on a regular basis.
“The good thing about this is we already have a case on it, so we can take it to the contempt stage,” Kroflich said, adding she cannot speak on future actions against Tontis property.
Farber alleged the grounds are mowed once or twice a year.
“New city-built sidewalks completely disappear behind the 3-foot weeds. Our circa-1961 neighborhood is nice and stays nice. However, it is embarrassing to provide directions past this dilapidated property,” Farber said.
Residents continue to want more than the grounds maintained. Some would like to see the rest of the building razed.
“Its an eyesore,” Crissinger said. “It brings the community down. Theres not development there, make it a park. Its doing no good just sitting there.”
The Westside Messenger made attempts to contact Tonti for his comments on the issue, but he did not respond.