YOUNGSTOWN See you in court, mayor tells Issue 2 panel
The Valley will not lose its Issue 2 money if the city takes legal action.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mayor George M. McKelvey says there's a "good possibility" that the city will challenge the local Issue 2 funding process in court by the end of this week.
The city most likely will start by seeking a court injunction stopping the funding process from moving ahead. On Wednesday, the District 6 Public Works Integrating Committee voted 8-1 to award funding to 31 infrastructure projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Youngstown's Federal Street reconstruction project did not receive funding, and Carmen Conglose Jr., the city's deputy director of public works, cast the dissenting vote.
The city is expected to argue that the committee should have a more uniform method of giving projects credit for regional importance during the funding process.
The Federal Street project received less credit for regional importance than projects in several smaller communities.
"Repaving a road in Braceville Township is more regionally significant in the infinite wisdom of members of this committee?" McKelvey asked Wednesday. "The action of this committee has greatly confused me."
The committee's handbook states that it can give credit to a project for "other factors of regional importance." Nothing more is written on the subject.
Committee chairman and Mahoning County Engineer Richard Marsico said the committee will consider clarifying the regional-importance criteria.
Conglose has said he feels the committee decided not to fund the Federal Street project as payback for the city's aggressive pursuit of state and federal funds in recent years. On Wednesday, several committee members responded to that allegation.
"The claim that the committee is anti-Youngstown, I haven't seen. The inference that I am is offensive," said Struthers Mayor Daniel Mamula, a committee alternate.
Committee alternate John Smythe angrily charged that Youngstown would never be happy with the funding process until it received money for the Federal Street project. Conglose loudly countered that he believed Smythe had decided how to vote on the project before hearing a presentation by the city.
W. Laurence Bicking, director of the Ohio Public Works Commission, stressed that the Mahoning Valley would not lose its Issue 2 money if an injunction request is filed. The Valley is set to receive $7.2 million.
The Federal Street project would remove the Federal Plaza and rebuild the street between Phelps and Walnut streets, reopening Federal Street to traffic. The city asked the committee for $946,000 to help with the project.
If a judge agrees with the city and the Federal Street project receives funding, several smaller projects that were approved Wednesday could lose out. Money that was slated to go to the smaller communities would have to go to the Federal Street project.