The program was started so hastily that the guidelines aren't in place.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Local leaders will meet soon to pick a panel that will oversee development of open spaces and watersheds under a new state program.
The problem is that once the committee is appointed, no one is quite sure what it's supposed to do.
"The program was put into motion so fast that the guidelines aren't in place yet," said Don Vitullo of Eastgate Council of Governments. "It was a rush job, and like every other rush job, it's got a lot of holes in it."
Bond issue OK'd: In November, Ohio voters approved a bond issue to fund the Clean Ohio Program, which provides $400 million for cleaning up abandoned industrial land, known as brownfields, and preservation of parks and farmland, known as greenfields.
The money will be provided over four years and is intended to help provide a boost in areas where economic growth has been stunted.
The Clean Ohio legislation calls for appointment of an 11-member committee, known as a Natural Resources Assistance Council, to oversee the greenfield programs in each of the state's 19 funding districts. Mahoning and Trumbull counties are combined to form one of them and will receive $1.4 million.
The committee will prioritize and fund projects submitted under the program, Vitullo said.
Sharing funds: Columbiana County is in a district with Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson and Tuscarawas, which will share nearly $1.9 million.
The districts are the same ones used for distribution of state Issue 2 money, which funds road and bridge improvement projects, Vitullo said. The same integrating committee that oversees Issue 2 projects will appoint the NRAC. It also coordinates brownfield development projects.
Applying for committee: Richard Marsico, Mahoning County engineer, is chairman of the integrating committee for the Mahoning and Trumbull county district. He said people interested in serving on the natural-resources committee must apply by Sept. 7.
Applications must be submitted to Vitullo, who is the integrating committee's liaison, he said.
Marsico agreed with Vitullo that confusion has reigned so far over just what the committee will do once it's named.
"But for right now, getting the committee named is the first step," Marsico said.
Vitullo said he expected to be inundated with applications, but that hasn't happened so far.
Under the law, the committee is to include representatives of various government, conservation and business agencies within the district.