Regarding the vacant Ohio Lamp lots: we sent the letter below to Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, the owner of Ohio Lamp. Will it be enough to get action? It’s hard to say, but we doubt it. We think it will take more, beginning with other people in Warren writing similar letters. The address is there. You don’t have to go into as much detail. Just write and reference this letter and the action it requests. This isn’t “someone else’s” job; if we want a better city everyone has to do something.
July 16, 2014Mr. Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO General Electric Corporation 3135 Easton Turnpike Fairfield, CT 06828
Dear Mr. Immelt:
I’ve seen you on TV many times and you’ve always seemed to me to be a decent man trying to do the right thing. I’m writing with the hope that my impressions were correct and that you will help correct an environmental injury being done by GE to our community.
GE’s Ohio Lamp factories made light bulbs in Warren, Ohio for many decades before closing operations here earlier this year. Unlike some other major companies who were a part of Warren’s industrial past, GE is doing the right thing and demolishing its old factory buildings in Warren rather than leaving them to deteriorate and blight our community, which is already burdened with thousands of vacant houses and commercial structures.
Unfortunately, what you are leaving behind is only marginally better for us than vacant factories. I’ve enclosed a couple of post demolition photos taken of your former factory site on West Market Street (parcel #39-524450). I’m not much of a photographer so these shots don’t give you the full sense of how bleak you are leaving this 1.17 acre lot on our main east-west thoroughfare.
This featureless, barren lot is about equal parts grass, weeds and bare patches of hard pan surrounded by an eight foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire. It resembles nothing so much as a Hollywood version of a maximum security prison yard. All it lacks are the gun towers.
As scary as this vacant lot looks, it pales compared to the fear many of us have over how another GE owned parcel (#39-524500), where demolition appears to have begun this week, will impact us once the land is bare.
This parcel is at at the corner of North Park and Dana, on Warren’s main north-south street, and is barely a half mile from our historic downtown Courthouse Square. It is also only three blocks from our Garden District, Warren’s oldest residential neighborhood and an area that dozens of local volunteers have been working tirelessly to revitalize over the past three years.
The fruits of our efforts in the Garden District are finally beginning to show, but if your old factory is replaced with a 2-1/2 acre mini-Attica, immediately adjacent to this lovely old neighborhood, it will be several steps backwards for our efforts and will be a difficult blow to overcome.
The sad part is that it would take so little to turn this problem into a big victory for both Warren and General Electric. You are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for demolition. If you spent the money you are spending on chain link fencing and razor wire, on trees, flowers and benches, you’d be a true corporate hero to everyone who hears the story.
It isn’t too late and we can offer all the help you could ever want. We have a terrific local CDC called Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, which also runs the county land bank and has several experts in post-industrial land reuse. Our Garden District volunteer corps includes several certified Ohio Master Gardeners. And we run a pretty darn good amateur PR operation, with close links to local media. We can ensure that GE will get the credit it deserves for the way it leaves Warren.
As mentioned above, none of this needs to cost a lot of money, but we do feel strongly that it is GE’s responsibility to leave Warren looking as good as a reasonable effort can leave it. The current “prison yard” motif is a bad metaphor for both you and us; but a couple of pleasant parks or gardens would serve our citizens well and would be a much better complement to the environmental storyline that infuses GE’s public relations and marketing.
I will be happy to answer any questions you or your colleagues have in an effort to create an arrangement that is simple, inexpensive, and beneficial to both your company and to the people of this hard-working community, who are struggling so hard to create a new post industrial future for themselves.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of our situation and this request.