GIRARD Man sets his site on helping city to recover

GIRARD -- When Michael A. Costarella was done talking to city council last week, he received a rare round of applause.
It wasn't only that the animated Costarella told lawmakers he wanted to help the troubled community, but because of his apparent sincerity.
He passed out cards announcing the establishment of a central Web site for the city.
The address:
"I've got kids. I came back here to raise a family. Whatever I can do," the 39-year-old computer software engineer said of his desire to do his part to improve the community.
"I don't want to focus on how we got here, but where we're going," said the 1981 graduate of Girard High School.
Aware of problems
The city's fiscal problems came home for Costarella, who has attended council sessions periodically for two years. He called to ask about correcting a large hole in the front yard of his Dravis Avenue home because of a storm sewer collapse.
"The city's broke and doesn't have any money," Costarella said he was told. "I just started to get interested."
Costarella repaired the sewer himself. He didn't want to have to explain to his 21/2-year-old son, Anthony, why he was hurt if he fell into the hole.
He and his wife, Tara, also have an 8-month-old daughter, Samantha. He moved here three years ago to be with his large family and raise his own.
Creating the Web site was a way of using his talents. He has his bachelor's degree in computer science from Bowling Green State University and master's degree in computer science and applied math from Wright State University.
About the Web site
What he's in the process of putting together is a site that will deal with city government, links to city businesses, community and sporting events, emergency radio scanner frequencies, a link to city schools site, community history, library and parks.
Costarella said he also became concerned with the closing of polluted Tod Park pond. "I grew up playing in that water," he noted.
Costarella said residents will be able to send him e-mails about their complaints. Councilmen will be able to check the complaints.
"I haven't editorialized. I've stayed with the facts. This is our town," he said of the site.
Within three days of distributing cards announcing the site, it received 50 hits.
Learning process
Costarella said he has already learned a lot about the city by building the site.
"I've got a grip on what went wrong [with city finances]" Costarella said, adding that those running for office might want to view the site.
Besides, he pointed out, it's free.
The family-oriented Costarella said he's fortunate to work from his home through teleconferencing.
"I'm lucky. I'm able to have lunch with my kids every day," he said.

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