YOUNGSTOWN Officials look for way to resume demolitions

The city's demolition budget is depleted for this year.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Several city department heads will formulate a comprehensive plan to address the city's demolition needs within the next two weeks, according to Carmen Conglose, deputy director of public works.
The department heads will include Calvin Jones, street superintendent; John O'Neill, fire chief; and Michael Damiano, demolition director.
"I believe, collectively, we can put together a plan that you guys can look at and within a reasonable realm of funding," Conglose said at the close of a Thursday meeting between the officials and members of city council.
Damiano said there are 300 buildings on his list awaiting demolition, including six to 12 whose demolition is urgent because they have been damaged by fire. He said he has depleted the $480,000 board-up and demolition budget he received in May of this year and does not want to wait until next May to receive additional money. Demolition costs an average of about $2,500 per house, he said.
Damiano said the city's demolition workload is so great that the work must be performed by a combination of the street department and private contractors.
Priority: Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, said a goal should be set to demolish a certain number of houses in a given time period. "We need to commit the resources," he said. "That's my priority -- eliminating the slum and blight," he said.
"If you give me the money, I won't disappoint you. Believe me. I'll knock down any rotten house we have in this city. We have a lot of blight that has to go, and the sooner we can get rid of it, the better off we're going to be," Damiano told the councilmen. Once the bulk of the blight is eliminated, city officials can concentrate on housing code enforcement and improve the city's appearance, he said.
"I don't think there's a councilman in this city council who would not support moving forward to get the manpower and the equipment and get this headache off our shoulders," said Councilman James E. Fortune, D-6th.

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