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A Grassroots Effort to Save Corbett's Legacy

One Twinsburg man wants to see something more from the old Corbett's Farm than another housing development and he's doing something about it.

Michael Turle had an idea.

Turle, a self-proclaimed idealist, has been pretty tight-lipped about it for a while, but Tuesday night he let it all out.

Just a few weeks after demolition of the barn and farmhouse at Corbett Farm began, he approached Twinsburg City Council with a proposal to preserve the land for the community's enjoyment.

He wants to purchase the property for a city park.

“This is not a knee jerk reaction to seeing the buildings torn down last week,” Turle said.

With all the land it would make a great area for sports, he said, especially since many of the city's current fields are in bad shape from overuse.

“Our field space for soccer and football is non existent,” Turle said.

He even suggested relocating the community gardens and farmers market would be a great move to a potential park at Corbett’s.

The property is currently owned by MSRK LLC in Beachwood, a developer planning to build a housing development on the property. 

However, their plans to build 200 houses on the 82 acre lot conflict with the city's zoning codes, which only allows for 95, according to the Twinsburg Bulletin.

The dispute is still locked up in the court system, they reported.

With the Corbett's land in gridlock, Turle thought it was best to try his plan now.

“This opportunity for Corbett Farm is an open window,” Turle said. “I think we should see if it’s an opportunity worth taking.”

But how would the city pay for it?

Turle suggested placing a bond issue before the voters or talking with local parks to join partnership or even looking at grants and corporate sponsors.

“In my non-scientific poll around town I’ve heard nothing but positive things,” Turle said, even if residents were confronted with a bond issue.

Even if the property turned into nothing, Turle would be satisfied.

“I would be happy if we bought it and just cut the grass twice a year,” he said.

While city administrators and council members applauded his undertaking, they don't believe this idea would be logical for the city to do.

Mayor Katherine Procop said that MSRK paid $3.5 million for the property and would sell it $4.5 million. It would be around $55,00 an acre if the city purchased it, before taxes.

“That would be very pricey for open space,” Procop said. 

She added that Twinsburg has nearly 2,000 acres of open space, which is more than any surrounding city.

“I think we’ve fulfilled our need for green space and are struggling to maintain the costs of those we have,” Councilman Bill Furey said.

Procop said she admired Turle for taking such initiative, recognizing that it's an emotional issue for many residents, but they city must be "fiscally responsible" and use the taxpayers' money "wisely."

“I have a bigger responsibility here and I can’t let my emotions get in the way of that,” Procop said.

Even if the initial effort wasn't a success, council recognized the need for people to step up and fight for what they believe in. 

“We need residents to get active and help facilitate change in this community,” Council President Ted Yates said.

While he admits he was a little deflated by the response, Turle said he respects and supports the decision. 

That doesn't mean it's the end though. Turle isn't sure what his next move will be.

"Is it dead or not yet? I don't know."

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