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MAHONING COUNTY Building offer gets 2nd look



Published: Sat, February 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



This is not the first time the facility has been offered to the county.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners will again review the offer of accepting Oakhill Renaissance Place as a possible site for county offices.

The building, the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center, already is occupied by several private and public agencies, including the county coroner's office and Youngstown Health Department.

Commissioners passed a resolution this week to have James Petraglia, county human resources director, the board and other private and public professionals to review the donation of the facility at 345 Oak Hill Ave. from the Southside Community Development Corp., which operates the building.

The SCDC board sent a letter to commissioners in December outlining the proposal.

Proposed offer

The proposal was to donate the facility to the county "to accommodate various offices and other uses in order to provide a center for social and community services in coordination with the Youngstown 2010 plan."

The 2010 plan is the vision for revitalizing the city. A portion of the plan calls for more green space, cleaning up neighborhoods, and forging partnerships with suburban communities.

Title to the property would be transferred "free and clear" subject to current leases and agreements and easements, and subject to the assignment of a current loan held by SCDC from the Ohio Department of Urban Development to the county for building renovations.

The loan, with a balance of about $489,000, is a low-interest loan with 50 percent guaranteed by the city, the letter states.

The proposal also asked that about 2,000 square feet be made available rent free to SCDC for a 20-year term to allow the corporation "to design and execute plans for the continued revitalization of Youngstown's South Side."

Oakhill Renaissance Place has ample free parking, 24-hour security, a large auditorium and meeting rooms, and a cafeteria, SCDC board officials said.

Atty. John Weed Powers made the presentation on behalf of SCDC and Renaissance Place to the outgoing board of commissioners at the December meeting, but they deferred the matter.

Petraglia said he will be working with the board and others to look over the donation proposal and determine if it is economically feasible to take over the building.

Reducing costs

The county is looking at consolidating as many county offices as possible to save money. Commissioners earlier this week discussed the possibility of placing three of the county's four area courts in one location.

The county also has been looking for a place to move the Department of Job and Family Services, which now is located in the McGuffey Plaza on the city's East Side.

SCDC made the donation proposal in July 2004 to commissioners, but the matter got bogged down over the issue of whether the county should create a building commission to determine what upgrades would be needed to the facility.

County Auditor George Tablack proposed such a commission; the former board, however, didn't think a commission was needed to peruse a current structure.

Commissioners Anthony Traficanti, John McNally IV and David Ludt. however, say they think the matter does need to be revisited.




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