Cleveland and Brook Park Reach Settlement
after Years of Litigation over Airport Expansion

FEBRUARY 6, 2001

The mayors of Cleveland and suburban Brook Park ended years of bickering that threatened to block the expansion of Cleveland's airport by agreeing Tuesday to a land swap -- a step that could secure the airport's future as a regional travel hub.

Under an intricate deal between Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White and Brook Park Mayor Thomas J. Coyne Jr., a convention center located in a spot that blocks runway expansion would shift from Brook Park to Cleveland.

But the NASA Glenn Research Center, now in Cleveland, would become part of Brook Park in 2002. NASA Glenn has produced about $1.89 million annually in taxes for Cleveland in recent years.

White and Coyne must now get their respective city councils to approve the deal, announced at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Bitter enemies for years, the mayors joked and complimented each other on Tuesday. White called Coyne "my colleague and my friend." Coyne noted that White was on crutches recently because of foot surgery. He told reporters, "I don't want you to think I beat the hell out of him to get this.

The center of the dispute between the communities has been a fight for control of the International Exposition Center, adjacent to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The airport was founded in 1926 and is now surrounded by highways, homes, industry, the I-X Center, and NASA Glenn.

White has said the airport -- nearing its flight capacity -- needs longer runways to handle international flights and runways far enough apart to allow simultaneous takeoffs and landings in any weather. He has argued that an improved airport is vital to northeast Ohio's economic future.

Although the I-X Center is within Brook Park, Cleveland bought the building in 1999 from Park Corp. for about $66.5 million, with the goal of tearing it down in about 15 years. Brook Park wanted to keep the building open as an ongoing site for conventions and trade shows, using it as a magnet for development and a cornerstone for its tax base.

Brook Park attempted to seize the building from Cleveland by eminent domain, the process by which a government takes property through court action. But in November, Cuyahoga County Probate Judge John J. Donnelly determined that Brook Park's intention of continuing the I-X Center as a site for conventions and trade shows would destroy Cleveland's plan to expand the airport. The judge dismissed Brook Park's eminent domain petition, and the suburb considered whether to appeal.

Brook Park is now dropping all litigation as part of Tuesday's settlement and Cleveland will likely demolish the expansive trade show building to make more room for a larger runway. Until then, Brook Park will continue to receive revenue as if the I-X Center was paying taxes to the suburb.

Source: Associated Press

See also: Legal Bills Are Enormous in Litigation Between Cleveland and Brook Park (Feb. 5, 2001)