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YOUNGSTOWN Project funding unlikely



Published: Fri, February 14, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



A committee member said Mayor McKelvey's outburst didn't help his cause.

By ROGER G. SMITHand IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS

AUSTINTOWN -- It looks as if Youngstown will be four points shy of receiving a $946,000 state Issue 2 grant for the Federal Street reconstruction project.

The District 6 Public Works Integrating Committee awarded the project a total of 68 points over the last few weeks based on several criteria, including regional importance.

The committee also awarded points to the other 61 projects seeking state funds in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Projects that were awarded at least 72 points are expected to receive funding.

The committee was expected to vote on Issue 2 money this morning at the Eastgate Regional Council of Government offices in Austintown.

Projects with the greatest number of points are the first to be funded. The committee continues awarding state money based on points until it cannot fully fund any additional projects.

City's threat

City officials have threatened to sue the committee if they do not receive funding for the Federal Street reconstruction project.

The project would remove the Federal Plaza and rebuild the street between Phelps and Walnut streets, completely reopening Federal Street to traffic. Construction is to start this summer.

Carmen Conglose Jr., the city's deputy director of public works and a committee member, said he felt the committee decided not to fund the project before Monday.

That was when the committee decided how many points to award each project for regional importance.

The Federal Street reconstruction project was awarded 10 out of a possible 30 points for regional importance.

Conglose added that he thinks the decision is pay-back for the city's aggressive and successful pursuit of federal and Issue 2 dollars recently.

Mahoning County Engineer Richard Marsico, who serves as committee chairman, said he doesn't think the committee harbors animosity toward the city. He noted that the committee has voted to give the city large Issue 2 grants for projects in the past.

This year, the city is expected to receive $193,056 for a sewer project in McGuffey Heights.

Panel members' views

Marsico said he voted to give the Federal Street project 10 points because he didn't believe city officials' contentions that the project would help draw new businesses downtown.

He added that he felt the committee could fund several smaller projects throughout the two counties with money that would have gone to the Federal Street project.

Committee member Charles Tieche, Canfield's city manager, said that he had looked at each project before the meeting to determine how many points each should receive for regional importance. Tieche added that his decisions are based on the merits of the projects.

Tieche noted that he believed the city didn't help itself Monday when Mayor George M. McKelvey loudly chastised the committee for its decision on the Federal Street project.

"Did it sway my vote and convince me to vote for 10? It probably did," he said.

Since 1989, the District 6 Public Works Integrating Committee has decided which local infrastructure improvement projects received state Issue 2 money. Here are the Mahoning and Trumbull County communities that have received the most Issue 2 funds between 1989 and 2001:

Trumbull County $22,670,460; Mahoning County $20,911,631; Youngstown $14,754,268, Warren $7,896,318; Niles $4,922,924; Canfield city $4,501,731; Struthers $3,523,016; Cortland $3,000,540; Campbell $2,930,758; Girard $2,519,756; Boardman $2,481,475; Lordstown $2,338,698; Hubbard city $2,330,476; Austintown $2,300,299; Sebring $2,220,591

hill@vindy.comrgsmith@vindy.com




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