YOUNGSTOWN Kids center for arts in works

The project would restore Power's Auditorium's facade to its original look.
YOUNGSTOWN -- An arts center for school-age children at Edward W. Powers Auditorium may become a step closer to reality today.
City council is to have on its 5:30 p.m. meeting agenda an ordinance providing $250,000 for this project in five annual installments of $50,000 each from the city's general fund. The first $50,000 is to come from the city's general fund, and the rest of the money from a federal Community Development Block Grant under an amendment proposed by Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th.
An additional $200,000 is pledged from the Adler Charitable Trust, and the remainder of the money for the project, which will cost just over $500,000, is to come from the Youngstown Symphony Society, which makes its home in the auditorium, according to Patricia Syak, society executive director.
The society hopes to begin work on the project in July and have the center open in January 2002, she said.
Renovations: The project, a partnership of the symphony society and Youngstown State University, involves renovation of the second and third floors of Powers to house after-school and weekend music, dance, drama and visual arts classes for inner-city schoolchildren.
"We believe this will be a significant communitywide initiative," said George McCloud, dean of YSU's College of Fine and Performing Arts, adding that university faculty and students will be coming regularly to Powers to assist in the arts center.
"This certainly will make it a bigger crown jewel on the west end of our downtown," Swierz said, referring to the auditorium.
To provide natural light for the arts center, windows will be installed in Powers Auditorium's facade, which faces Federal Plaza West, restoring the facade to its original appearance.
The SMARTS (Students Motivated by the Arts) program, which is now housed at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and Hayes Middle School, would move to the symphony center after the new facilities are built.
On Tuesday, council's finance committee recommended passage of the arts center ordinance with Swierz's amendment and of ordinances appropriating $48,500 to the drug court program of Youngstown Municipal Court and $58,760 toward construction of a new Walton Avenue Bridge providing access to industrial land along the Mahoning River.
Other business: Also on council's agenda today is an ordinance designating the site between the South Avenue and Market Street bridges as the location for the proposed convocation center.
Another ordinance on today's council agenda would amend the city's group-home licensing law by increasing the minimum distance between group homes from 1,000 to 2,000 feet. It would affect only new group homes, not existing ones.
"That would stop group homes from being clustered together. We wanted them as far apart as possible," Councilman Artis Gillam Sr., D-1st, explained.

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