COLUMBIANA COUNTY New center for disabled is delayed

The dispute centers on whether the new facility must be equipped with a sprinkler system.
LISBON -- Columbiana County officials had hoped construction on a new facility for disabled people would have begun by now, but a dispute with the state has the project on hold.
State officials have refused to grant a building permit for plans to convert a former five-and-dime store into a center for adults with mental and physical disabilities.
The nearly $1.1 million project is being undertaken by the county's Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Board.
A building permit is being withheld because the state says a sprinkler system should be installed, said Gerald Baker, MRDD superintendent.
The disabilities board's project consultant says, however, that a sprinkler system isn't necessary given the size of the facility and its intended use, Baker explained.
A hearing may be necessary to iron out the disagreement, he added.
MRDD officials had wanted to start construction in August. Work will begin as soon as the building permit is received and will take about a year to complete.
The structure the MRDD wants to remodel is along state Route 45 in Center Township, north of Lisbon.
Plans call for enlarging and remodeling the building.
Among those using the center will be people whose disabilities are so severe that they are unable to do many other activities, such as being employed in the agency's workshops.
Senior citizens with disabilities, many of whom have retired from MRDD workshops, will use the center. The seniors will be able to pursue activities such as knitting, cooking and playing games.
The cost of the center includes about $803,000 in construction expenses and the nearly $346,000 paid for the building.
Most of the money for the project will come from MRDD funds.

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