YOUNGSTOWN City eyes costs to redevelop airport

The city is making plans since its last industrial park is almost full.
YOUNGSTOWN -- With most of the city's old industrial sites redeveloped, attention is turning to the Lansdowne Airport.
The city is exploring how much it would cost to bring sewers, roads, electric service and other utilities to the site for an industrial park.
The East Side site is flat, doesn't have many environmental problems and is near major roads, including the long-planned Hubbard expressway, said Jeffrey L. Chagnot, city development director.
The little airport doesn't handle many small planes any more, he said. He called the spot "virtually abandoned."
The space was identified in the early 1990s as among the few possible industrial sites left in the city, Chagnot said. The area was rezoned as industrial shortly after.
The city's interest doesn't mean, however, that a business park is a done deal, he said.
Instead, the city is planning for the future since its last large industrial park -- the Ohio Works -- is almost full.
Checking affordability
Bringing industrial-size utilities to the Lansdowne site, especially electric service, could cost more than the city can afford. Also, extensive mining in the area decades ago could be a complication.
Finding out the costs is the first step in exploring the feasibility, Chagnot said.
"We need to get a handle on the size of the expenses," he said.
The city should know in about three months whether a project is possible.
The city is facing a budget deficit this year, so economic development funding will face the same cutbacks as other departments. Officials have talked about borrowing with the city's federal money or going through the water or sewer funds to finance needed work.
"It's a good period for planning when your budget is in tatters," Chagnot said.
The city has talked with the partnership that owns the land, listed in property records as the Lansdowne Airport Association, about buying 140 acres, he said. About 110 acres is considered available for development. Partnership officials couldn't be reached to comment.
An additional 300 acres also could be developed, Chagnot said.

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