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ECONOMIC EXPANSION Liberty pushing for chance to grow



Published: Mon, April 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Ungaro would like to create an entertainment district on Belmont Avenue.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

LIBERTY -- Legal developments are keeping township officials from having legal developments.

So they are asking a state representative to help change state laws that bar them from buying or selling land for economic growth. That change would clear the way so that township land could house legal developments, such as industrial parks and entertainment zones.

"I want the township to grow and by not being able to purchase land for economic development, it's very difficult to expand," said Pat Ungaro, Liberty Township administrator. "We need to make some changes."

Assisting Ungaro is state Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles, D-65th, who believes it's time to make some changes for townships.

"Liberty is just so ripe right now and it could really take off," Harwood said. "We need to do what we can to create economic growth."

Ungaro said he would like to create an industrial park near Gypsy Lane and an entertainment zone on Belmont Avenue.

"We want to get companies to move here so we have to be able to offer a good area," Ungaro said.

He noted that the Ohio Department of Transportation is working on a $2 million road project on Belmont Avenue. He said the improvements will help the overall appearance of the area and, hopefully, attract more business.

"There are so many things we could do that would really help the growth of the township," Ungaro said. "With the 711 Connector being built this is the time to be planning."

711 Connector

The massive and long-awaited $63 million 711 Connector is expected to be finished in the fall of 2006, though some portions will open to traffic earlier.

It's a major undertaking by the Ohio Department of Transportation: a work area about 1.5 miles long across 50 acres, extending from the existing state Route 711 in Youngstown near Interstate 680 to Interstate 80 at the Girard-Liberty border.

The connector was first proposed 30 years ago.

Today, the four-lane, access-controlled divided highway is being assembled to provide north-south continuity between Interstates 680 and 80. Officials also hope the highway will spur economic development.

"I believe the 711 Connector will help us, and we have to be ready," Ungaro said.

Ungaro and Harwood are working on a land conveyance bill that would allow the township to sell the land where the current township road department is located.

"The 711 Connector will be going right near there and if we can move it [road department] and use that land for economic development it would be great," Ungaro said.

Harwood, who is sponsoring the bill, gave testimony on it last week and a second hearing is planned for Thursday. Ungaro is planning to attend.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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