Donation boxes questioned in Ravenna

Measure eyed for city's central business district

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

The blue, yellow or white boxes seem to be popping up in just about every parking lot, encouraging people to donate clothing or shoes to the sick or less fortunate.

The problem is, some property owners don't want them there, and have a hard time reaching the owners of the boxes to have them removed.

Now that the city of Ravenna has become a property owner with an unsolicited box, City Council is taking action.

Council's Public Health and Safety committee recently agreed to move forward with a ban on the boxes in the city's central business district.

A blue box bearing the words, "Clothing and Shoe Donation" recently was set up at the former medical office at the corner of North Chestnut Street and Highland Avenue. The city purchased the building last year for use as an arts business incubator.

Mayor Joseph Bica said the city has called the phone number on the box and asked that it be removed, but got no response.

Councilwoman Amy Michael said she was alerted to the problem by a resident who said a box was put up at the Ravenna United Methodist Church. The resident said the church discovered nobody had given permission for the box to be there. After trying to reach the owners of the box by phone and mail and receiving no response, the church took the box down and tried to scrap the metal. However, a local scrap yard would not take the box.

Service Director Kelly Engelhart suggested an administrative policy where property owners could call the city if a donation box goes up without their permission. The city would contract with a local towing service to remove and impound the boxes, and charge the cost to the box owners. The contents of the boxes would be donated to the Portage County Clothing Center.

City Engineer Bob Finney suggested controlling the boxes through zoning, because "if it's an administrative policy, it can become political."

However, he said, the policy might also have a greater impact.

"If the city is willing to house them and lock them up, it might get somebody's attention," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or

dsmith@recordpub.com

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