YOUNGSTOWN City asks for time on plan for court

Mayor George McKelvey says the city hopes to have an answer by Sept. 28.
YOUNGSTOWN -- City officials have asked for more time to let Mahoning County know its plan for providing space in the former city hall annex to house the 7th District Court of Appeals.
County Commissioners Ed Reese and Vicki Allen Sherlock said the extension is no problem.
"I'm not opposed to it at all," said Commissioner Ed Reese. "They realize this is an important project, and we want to make sure the city is given full consideration."
Sherlock also said she wants to work with the city. Commissioner David Ludt was not available to comment.
County Administrator Gary Kubic said commissioners will discuss the matter during a staff meeting Tuesday and make a decision.
What's been done: In May, the county sent a letter to city council agreeing to lease space in the annex building at the southwest corner of Front and Market streets. They plan to house the court of appeals and the Mahoning-Columbiana Training Association there.
The court of appeals is on the fourth floor of the county courthouse, but badly needs to find larger quarters. Mahoning, as the largest county in the appellate district, is responsible for providing the court with space.
When commissioners did not get a response from the city by July, Kubic sent another letter setting the Monday deadline. If no response was received by then, the county would withdraw its offer.
What's requested: Mayor George McKelvey sent commissioners a letter this week, asking that the deadline be extended to Sept. 28. He said the city hopes to receive cost proposals from developers by Sept. 15 and select a developer by Sept. 28.
"We believe that this process will be mutually beneficial to both the county and city by optimizing cost and construction schedules," McKelvey says in the letter.
The building needs about $3.2 million worth of improvements before the court of appeals can move in. The city wants to borrow money for several downtown projects, including the annex improvement, but has held off because of uncertain finances.
Officials have said the city could be facing a $400,000 budget shortfall by the end of the year.
Kubic said it's a good sign that the city is moving ahead with finding a developer, and he's hopeful that the partnership can still work out. Commissioners want to keep the court and MCTA downtown if possible, he said.

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