REDEVELOPMENT City council upset about lack of downtown agency meetings

The full board of the CIC hasnot met since April.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The downtown redevelopment agency board was to meet today for the first time in three months with its members expected to get an earful from some city councilmen upset about the lack of meetings.
Leading the charge is Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd and a member of the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp.
At last Wednesday's city council meeting, Hudson complained that the CIC is conducting business through its property and executive committees while canceling meetings of its full committee. A majority of council serves on the full CIC committee.
At Hudson's request, council voted 5-2 last week against approving legislation by an emergency measure to have the city and the CIC file an application seeking money from the Clean Ohio Fund.
That money would be used toward demolition and environmental remediation at the future site of the $5.2 million Youngstown Technology Center. Instead, council gave the legislation a first reading.
Scheduling struggle
Hudson said the CIC would have canceled today's full board meeting if council approved that legislation.
"It's wrong to have all the decisions made" on the committee level, Hudson said. "It's the only board I've been on that doesn't meet regularly."
Jason Whitehead, CIC executive director, says today's meeting would have happened even if council approved the Clean Ohio Fund legislation.
Whitehead said meetings were canceled because of scheduling conflicts and vacations among the agency's 27 board members. Also, Whitehead said CIC board members aren't paid, and if there isn't any decisions to be made or issues to be discussed, meetings are canceled.
Because of the cancellations, Hudson said he no longer puts CIC board meetings on his calendar. Hudson missed the April meeting because he was tired of having to change his work schedule.
"If people won't come and we lack a quorum, board members should be removed," he said.
Whitehead said he hopes to clear the air with Hudson and other council members about their concerns at today's meeting.
As for council's decision to not approve the Clean Ohio Fund legislation last week, Whitehead said it could hold the project up for 30 to 60 days. Construction of the 25,000-square-foot facility is supposed to start at the end of this year or early 2006, and be done by the end of 2006.
"We're running real tight to get the application submitted to the state," he said. "Unless I can get a piece of legislation approved by the city next week, it will be delayed."
Council is on summer recess with its next meeting scheduled for Sept. 21. However, council can hold a special meeting before then, as it did last week.

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