YOUNGSTOWN Councilmen push for city, board talks

The arena board president and a councilman want an agreement soon.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown Civic Center Development Corp. board has agreed to pursue a compromise with city leaders that would lead to a contract between the board and the city.
"It behooves us all, both the board and the city, to get some dialogue flowing. We have some initiative for dialogue from Councilmen [Ron] Sefcik and [John R.] Swierz by way of some correspondence they have sent to us," said Atty. Leonard Schiavone, arena board chairman.
"We thank Councilmen Swierz and Sefcik for opening the dialogue, and we will respond accordingly," said Robert VanSickle, arena board vice chairman.
Sefcik, a Democrat, is the city's 4th Ward councilman, and Swierz, also a Democrat, is the 7th Ward councilman.
Motion passed: The motion to respond to that correspondence in the spirit of compromise was passed Thursday after the board emerged from an executive session in which it discussed the proposed contract.
Schiavone said his board wouldn't favor any contract in which the board would play solely an advisory role.
A letter from Sefcik to the board suggests some "talking points" for possible compromise between the arena board and the city, Schiavone said, declining to be specific. The arena board agreed in its motion to respond to that letter, saying the letter has raised some issues "that are open for discussion."
Agreement: Schiavone said he hopes an agreement can be reached soon to enable the arena board to pay Gateway Group of Cleveland and Compass Facility Management Inc. of Ames, Iowa, to work jointly as project managers.
Swierz, who attended the arena board meeting, said he hopes a contract between the city and arena board can be signed before the end of this year, and that he believes the arena board should have day-to-day authority over the project. The arena board vote has "gotten us off of dead center," he said.
For a contract between the city and arena board to take effect, city council would have to authorize the city's board of control to enter into it. The board of control consists of Mayor George M. McKelvey, finance director Barbara Burtner, and law director Robert Bush.
Swierz was the sole dissenter in a 2-1 vote in which city council's finance committee said it favored a contract that would have defined the arena board as an advisory board. "I feel that there needs to be a partnership agreement put together," Swierz said.

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