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YOUNGSTOWN CIC mulls options for expiring grant

By Roger Smith

Friday, January 31, 2003

The county is expected to make a decision on proposals for the appeals court in about a month.
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's time to consider what might happen to a $550,000 grant if the money isn't put toward renovating space for an appeals court. Members of the city's downtown redevelopment agency talked about that and a couple of other issues Tuesday.
The money is part of the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp.'s proposal to renovate the city hall annex. The 7th District Court of Appeals would move in. The court is now in the Mahoning County Courthouse across the street.
The city got the $1.2 million energy efficiency grant 10 years ago from Ohio Edison, now FirstEnergy. The city spent $650,000 on energy improvements to the sewer plant a few years later. The remaining grant, however, expires at the end of March. Any unspent money could be lost.
The city dedicated the $550,000 balance to the CIC's proposed court project.
The city should start thinking about other ways to spend the money, however, if Mahoning County doesn't accept the court proposal or delays a decision, CIC members said. The county is expected to decide on proposals for the court in about a month.
Matters of discussion
The CIC board, which didn't have a quorum and couldn't take action, also discussed these items:
* Expressed a willingness to leave its office in the George V. Voinovich Government Center. The move would let a paying tenant rent the space. The state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which has a first floor Voinovich office, is looking for more space. The CIC's fourth-floor office is the only unleased space left in the building. The bureau's desire to remain in the building and downtown is a good sign, said CIC member Bill Binning.
*Talked about the status of several downtown projects. Bozanich outlined the city's contract negotiations with the developer of the proposed downtown civic center project. The Federal Plaza reopening project is to be awarded in the spring and start in the summer, he said.
*Had a 15-minute closed-door discussion about Robin Rogers, CIC executive director. Rogers is a Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber employee assigned to the CIC. The chamber has a contract to run the agency. She has been off work about three months. She was hit in the head by a falling fixture while showing the former First Federal building, said Reid Dulberger, the chamber's executive vice president and a CIC staff member. It's unclear when she will return to work, he said.