Property owners still are waiting

Thursday, May 12, 2005 JEREMIAH STETTLER THE SAGINAW NEWS

The offer to buy up Tittabawassee River properties now is a month old, and homeowners are wondering if Dr. Samuel H. Shaheen really is a willing buyer.

"He's blowing smoke," said riverside resident Chuck Abbott, who says the Saginaw Township physician and entrepreneur has not lived up to the promises he made.

Shaheen announced in early April that he and unnamed business associates were prepared to buy every dioxin-tainted property along the Tittabawassee River at double the state equalized value, plus $25,000 to $50,000.

Abbott, 38, was the first person to approach Shaheen on the offer. The businessman committed to no sale price for Abbott's Thomas Township home but said he would make Abbott happy.

Aside from missed appointments by a Shaheen representative, Abbott said the entrepreneur has taken no action on his property.

"All I know is that it ain't right and it ain't good business for a person of his stature," he said. "We aren't happy."

Shaheen's real estate representative, Ken Kujawa, has declined comment. When reached on his cell phone Wednesday, Shaheen would not talk about the offer.

"I don't have that much I want to say about it," he said.

The inaction has disheartened home owner Thomas R. Call Jr., who praised the businessman last month.

"This guy is like a god," he said upon hearing Shaheen's offer. "He is ready to reach out with beaming sunlight and buy our property. He is saying, 'I am willing to save you poor folk.' I'm ready to be saved."

But Call, a 60-year-old Saginaw Township resident, has had a change of heart. He received a phone call from Kujawa but has heard nothing since.

"I'm terribly disappointed and broken-hearted," Call said.

The story is the same in other riverside neighborhoods, where property owners say Shaheen isn't as eager to buy as his statement suggested.

Mark Conley, 41, said a Shaheen representative contacted him last month to inquire about the location of his Thomas Township property. The man asked if the parcel stretches all the way to the river, which it does not.

A week passed. Conley contacted the representative himself and was told that Shaheen wasn't "blowing him off," but rather focusing on riverfront property first.

Conley hasn't heard a word since. He believes the buyout is more about profit than principle.

"Everybody is making him out to be Mother Teresa by bailing people out of their dioxin problem," he said. "But he is a businessman who is out to make buck."

Shaheen employees declined to say how many property owners have contacted the office about the offer. Neither would they discuss the status of those transactions. v

Jeremiah Stettler is a staff writer at the Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9685.

© 2005 Saginaw News


For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site www.trwnews.net for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.