The mayor spoke of the 'devastating' effect of losing 250 jobs.
WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners took in three hours of sales pitches Friday from seven companies seeking to stay in the running for providing Department of Job and Family Services space.
Commissioner Daniel Polivka said the board will make its choice in the next couple weeks.
Cafaro Co. president Anthony Cafaro Sr. said commissioners should provide an office location for residents of the entire county -- not simply keeping it downtown because of the desires of Mayor Michael O'Brien or the view of a local newspaper.
Cafaro was referring to the presentation given by Jack Gibson, owner of the nearly empty Gibson Building on East Market Street, and about a half-dozen of his associates. O'Brien spoke during that presentation of the "devastating" effect of Warren losing 250 jobs if the facility goes outside the city.
O'Brien said the city would waive various fees connected with renovations done to the Warren sites being proposed. Other Warren locations are the former St. Joseph Riverside Hospital, and the current Job and Family Services quarters at 150 S. Park Ave. and 147 W. Market St. The leases on those two buildings expire this year.
The county's Child Support Enforcement Agency is now at 106 High St. N.W. in the county-owned Stone Building.
Trumbull County wants to lease 76,000 to 77,000 square feet with parking for the "One Stop Center and Child Enforcement" operation. Factors to be considered include convenience to the predominantly urban clientele and utility costs.
Cafaro, whose proposal is to lease or sell space in the former Sam's Club site near the Eastwood Mall in Niles, spoke after Gibson's representatives, who offered to provide 52,000 square feet in a remodeled Gibson Building.
Cafaro wondered why Gibson was not making a proposal for the 76,000 square feet requested by the county and wanted to know if the criteria had changed. He said if it had, he wanted the chance to re-bid.
Tony Carson Jr., county administrator, said he believes Gibson's proposal is based on the idea that the current Child Enforcement office could stay in its present location.
A lot of information
Commissioner Paul Heltzel said later that all the information provided Friday -- primarily dollar amounts and the availability of parking and other amenities -- was too much to completely absorb. He said one thing the commissioners also have to analyze is the quality of the structures.
Polivka said some of the offers have come down in price. Negotiations in recent weeks were the reason commissioners gave for Friday's hearing.
One of the more low-key presentations is among the top-ranked: Eastgate Technology Park, which is proposing new construction on 6.2 acres on U.S. Route 422 near the former Fiore Restaurant and Soul 77 Nightclub. Its speakers, Daniel Zarlenga and Randy Hake, spoke for a few of their allotted 30 minutes, stated that new construction allows the county to get just what it wants rather than having to fix up an existing space. The location is in Warren, near the Niles border.
Other presentations were given by:
UBob Fiorino, vice president of Covelli Enterprises, offering the space in the Village Center Plaza in Niles. He and Cafaro emphasized the savings that would be realized by getting low-cost electric from Niles city instead of Ohio Edison.
UTom Dobson, owner of Riverside Square, the former hospital.
UArt Lewis of Lewis Real Estate, representing owners of the former DIY store on Elm Road in Warren.
UNick Perod, a partner in Kleese Development Associates, the current landlord.