Township departments will clean up Belmont Avenue.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- If you drive along Belmont Avenue, it isn't difficult to see which business owners are proud of their properties and which aren't.
At Uptown Pizza, owner Mark Campbell has a landscaper who annually adds fresh mulch and routinely trims the shrubbery in front of the shop.
Campbell, who has worked at the store since 1975, says be believes pleasant surroundings draw customers, who feel safe doing business with him.
Just up the road, Peg McDonough, project director at Belmont Eye Clinic Inc., agrees.
A good-looking building and its landscaping "contributes to the community and helps business," she said.
In 1998, the clinic remodeled the front of its building and hired a landscaper. "It's more welcoming," McDonough said.
The two businesses have been singled out by township administrator Patrick J. Ungaro as examples of responsible business neighbors.
However, the lack of pride by others has prompted Ungaro and township trustees to initiate a program to rid the Belmont Avenue corridor of properties that have gone to seed.
"Blight has to be reversed," Ungaro asserted. "You have to focus in on it." He said he's carrying out the wishes of township trustees.
The administrator said he's using township departments to focus on the task of eliminating junk vehicles, tearing down old buildings and bringing structures in line with building codes.
Cutting unsightly grass and weeds and eliminating large signs will be part of the effort.
Township workers will be used.
Over the years, Ungaro explained, the area has deteriorated as people have moved in from Youngstown, bringing inner-city problems such as crime with them.
As a result, businesses have closed, said Ungaro, who was mayor of Youngstown for 14 years.
He called attention to the vacant Boat Yard restaurant, which he calls "a mess."
A key to reinvestment in businesses and housing stock is reducing crime, Ungaro said, pointing out that police will focus on that.
"You can't run from those problems," he asserted.
Trustees have been addressing the situation along Belmont.
For example, sidewalks will be constructed later in the year and an effort is being made to landscape the ramps at Interstate 80.