Councilman Bartholomew’s letter to GE

Regarding your property on North Park in Warren, I know I’m neither the first or the last person to write to you regarding your current or perspective plans for that land.

I will say this. I am a business owner. I own the building where my business is and I live there. I am the councilperson for the fourth ward in the city, which includes downtown. I am invested in this city personally and financially. I am also personally invested in the idea that our downtown should be a “walkable community”. A place where people are happy living, walking and meeting each other outside of their homes. A place where they can walk to social events in our downtown community. A place where residents feel comfortable walking around.

A partial remolding of your plans for the former light bulb factory would benefit these ideas. Tearing down your building is a huge step, but keeping the land under lock and key, paying property taxes and upkeep for the foreseeable future does not seem to be best course of action, for this city or your company. Why would GE want to be just one more company holding onto industrial land that sadly nobody wants? . I would love to work with your company representatives, local non-profits and community to leaders to find a solution that may benefit all of us

Thank you for your time,

Greg Bartholomew
Warren City Council 4th Ward


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Coming together


We think the Tribune got it right this morning when they said the important thing about addressing the former GE buildings is that the community has come together to do something about it. We have reprinted this mornings editorial below.

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If no improvements are made to the vacant General Electric properties on West Market Street and North Park Avenue in Warren, one very good thing would have resulted from the attempt to get the corporate giant to better clean up after itself.

Community coalescing.

Folks in Niles and Austintown might want to closely watch how it plays out.

Warren is plagued with many unkempt, vacant commercial lots. In many ways, the former GE plants are just two more pockmarks. In fact, the West Market plant has been closed for years and nary a word was said about it.

But when GE shuttered its North Park plant in January, then erected a prison-like fence around it, people got angry.

The difference?

This is along the Garden District. This impacts a 22-block area that has been the focal point of a pretty amazing grassroots revitalization effort. This is next to a neighborhood that is in the midst of a transformation, spearheaded by prominent community leaders, philanthropists and volunteers that have already mounted considerable progress. This General Electric property could hurt – or help – a repopulation effort that has the potential to breathe new life into the central city and beyond.

And so about a dozen of those who have been part of the sweat and toil have recently written to GE executives, including Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt, to do something better with the properties their company abandoned on North Park and West Market. Here’s some of what they have penned:

l ”The West Market Street lot … looks so much like the exercise yard at Attica,” because of the seven-foot-tall chain link fence around it.

l ”The barren, bleak and intimidating former Ohio Lamp site on West Market is already a significant black eye for the city and a similar result on North Park would be a devastating blow to our central city revitalization efforts.”

l ”Every time I drive past your former facility on West Market Street, I want to put an ice pick through my eye.” The West Market plant was demolished. The North Park plant will soon be razed and there is fear the vacant land left will receive the same treatment.

GE responded by recently removing the three rows of barbed wire atop the fence on the West Market Street property. Company executives said the sites are for sale and so they want to keep them shovel-ready. But there is a strong desire for more beautification.

The letter writers make a couple excellent points.

Warren Expressed blog and Gregg’s Gardens co-founder Dennis Blank wrote, ”One can’t help wondering, given the glut of vacant industrial property available in Warren, if anyone has assessed the odds of selling either parcel for a meaningful amount of money in our lifetimes.”

Josh Nativio wrote, ”I’ll dare to say that something more needs to be done because it is the right thing to do. Give us the General Electric People’s Park. Give us the Ohio Lamp Community Gardens. Give us something more than just decimated, post-industrial land because it is the proper thing to do.”

And Blank adds, ”… together we will create far greater public relations value for General Electric than the lots could ever return in a real estate deal.”

GE public relations in the Mahoning Valley could sure use a jolt after rendering hundreds unemployed by closing plants in Warren, Niles and Austintown. Valley residents felt further insulted when President Obama appointed Immelt to head the nation’s job creation commission. Immelt embraced Obama Administration policies that bolstered GE’s bottom line but put thousands of the company’s workers in Warren, Niles and Austintown out of jobs.

Immelt backed Obama’s plan for global warming fees and other aspects of the administration’s environmental push that led to switching from incandescent light bulbs manufactured in the Mahoning Valley to compact florescent light bulbs produced overseas. In exchange, GE received government contracts for windmills and solar panels.

Immelt also supported Obamacare. GE is profiting from its line of medical equipment with sales bolstered by the new health care legislation.

But there is an opportunity for GE to leave a great legacy in Warren. The company should embrace the grassroots effort that has reached out to the corporate giant.

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This weekend

There is a lot of good stuff going on this weekend.
TNP’s mural event at TAG 158 North Park is from 4pm-7pm Friday. Visit them and vote for your favorite mural idea for the big wall at Mohoningside.

Commons Fest is 12-4 Saturday at Courthouse Square and Warren SOUP is Saturday at 5pm at Laird Community Garden across Laird from Warren Water Dept.
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Councilman Colbert says…


DSCN0792Dear Ms. Sylvester,

For several decades General Electric has been a part of Warren’s community. G.E. has contributed to the prosperity of not only our citizens but to our city as a whole. I personally want to thank General Electric for its partnership in our city’s great history.

Similar to the fate of other once prosperous industrial cities, Warren has found itself struggling through some hard times. With the loss of much of our industrial base many former thriving industrial parks sit in ruins, a shell of their former selves. With the loss of business also comes the loss of population, leaving our neighborhoods devastated as well. The loss of G.E. in my city was yet another unfortunate blow to the morale of our citizens.

Through these tough times we have partnered with local 501(c)-3s from Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership and gregg’s gardens, to local neighborhood associations. We seek out grants on federal and state levels to try to return our city to its once greatness. I’m writing you in an effort to ask you for your partnership once again. G.E. was a vital partner in the success that Warren once knew. I’m humbly  asking you to partner with us once again in our effort to return this city to the beautiful, thriving metropolis our citizens deserve.

Specifically I’m asking that you consider any of several beautification projects that could be implemented at your former properties. Although we greatly appreciate your prompt action in demolishing your vacated buildings, the empty space seems to have greater repurposing possibilities. Please consider partnering with the city and our various partners in an effort to return the G.E. Properties to the shining landmarks that they once were.


Eddie L. Colbert
Warren City Council 7th Ward
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See for yourself (photo album)


DSCN0787We have prepared a little photo album for those of you who have been unable to drive by the former Ohio Lamp site on West Market and Austin. We all want to be fair to GE and give them credit for taking down their vacant building, but what message do these photos of that site send about the condition of Warren?

At the moment the weeds hide a lot of the bare hard pan but imagine how it will look once it loses its summer greenery. Also, as you can see, chain link is no guarantee that the lot will be litter-free.







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