FARRELL Woman to move project after council's decision

The city also was challenged for giving a proposed playground site to a planned private apartment complex.
FARRELL, Pa. -- A Sharon woman, upset that Farrell City Council refused to waive $565 in garbage and sewer fees on a property she purchased, said her redevelopment efforts in the city are over.
Audrey Koi of North Oakland Avenue, Sharon, had asked Farrell council to forgive the debt on a house at 728 Lee Ave. she recently bought at a tax sale.
Council had tabled the request at its May meeting to gather more details and Koi came to Monday's council meeting to ask what would be done.
She said that the debt was incurred by previous owners who died and that the city had planned to raze the house. Her plan was to repair it and get it back on the tax roll, she said.
Koi said she planned to renovate the structure and already has replaced electrical service to the house and intends to rent it out.
It's part of an ongoing personal plan she said she had to help the city improve its housing stock.
She noted she bought a vacant six-unit apartment complex at 705-715 Lee Ave. a year ago and spent about $19,000 to renovate it and had plans to buy more houses in Farrell after she finished working on 728 Lee Ave.
Moving mission: After the meeting, she said her plans have changed.
Council voted 4-2 against forgiving the sewer and garbage fees with Mayor William Morocco insisting that the city get some return on those debts.
Council members Louis Falconi and Helen Marenchin voted to grant her request, noting she was making an effort to help improve the city, but Morocco and council members Rudy Hammond, Peter Stephanopoulos and Robert Burich voted against the plan.
Koi said she will proceed with the renovation at 728 Lee Ave. but won't do any more work in Farrell. She said she plans to take her personal community improvement mission to Greenville and Sharon instead.
Took to task: In other matters, the Shenango Valley Initiative, a congregation-based community activist group, took council to task for giving away land that had been reserved for a children's playground.
Dr. Thomas Hawkins, SVI vice president, in a letter read to council, pointed out that the proposed playground on Emerson Avenue was designated for recreation by council in August 1999 after SVI helped put together a minipark concept for the city that included five lots.
Council voted last month to give Mercer County Community Action Agency an option to buy the land at a price to be determined later as the site for 10 apartments for mentally challenged residents.
"You can understand our amazement to your action of an apartment, knowing your earlier assignment of this site for a minipark," Hawkins wrote.
Morocco said the decision came down to dollars and cents, pointing out that the city has an obligation to get more revenue into the municipal coffers and the housing project would be paying taxes.
City officials realize the commitment to improve recreation and will take steps to find an alternative site for that purpose, he said.

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