Having two legislators on the state council will give Valley projects a fair shake, a chamber official said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning Valley's chances to get its hands on some of the $200 million available through a statewide bond issue for cleaning up brownfields have improved.
A second legislator who represents this area has been appointed to the 13-member council that will divvy up the money.
State Senate Assistant Minority Leader Greg DiDonato of Dennison, D-30th, whose district includes Columbiana County, was appointed to the Clean Ohio Council by Senate President Richard Finan.
DiDonato joins state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd. House Speaker Larry Householder appointed Blasdel, who sponsored the bond issue legislation in the state House.
Reaction: The Valley has as much or more representation on the council as any other region in the state, said Barbara Ewing, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber's vice president of public policy
"We view this as two out of the 13 members having some stake in the Mahoning Valley's long-term economic development," said Ewing, who has worked closely with local legislators on the brownfield bond issue. "Sen. DiDonato has been tremendously supportive of our efforts. We have established a very good working relationship."
Having DiDonato and Blasdel on the council will help Valley projects get a fair shake, Ewing said.
"They can help get more money for our projects because it's a selection process," she said. "The committee looks at all the projects that are selected regionally and those that have the most support are going to be funded."
The bond issue: Ohio voters in November 2000 approved a $400 million bond issue to fund the Clean Ohio Program. The program provides $200 million for brownfield cleanup and $200 million for green-space and farmland preservation.
To obtain brownfield money, communities would submit applications to regional public works committees and the committees would prioritize the area's top six projects and send them to the Clean Ohio Council for approval.
One of the locations expected to be on the local list is 1,400 acres of former Republic Steel property east of Center Street on the Youngstown-Campbell line.
The green-space and farmland money is distributed regionally through a formula. Mahoning and Trumbull counties are in one region and will receive $1.4 million. Columbiana County is in a district with Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties, which will share about $1.9 million.