Residents hear details about moving 8 homes

The area contains eight older homes and 17 vacant lots.
GIRARD -- The federal government wants to buy, but not everyone in The Flats wants to sell.
State and local officials met with several residents Tuesday to discuss details of a $385,000 federal grant that would fund the moving of eight households in the city area known as The Flats.
The money would also buy 17 vacant lots in that area.
The Flats is under the viaduct between downtown Girard and McDonald. Because it's in the Mahoning River flood plain, the area is frequently flooded during heavy rains.
The area, which contains eight older houses, was especially hard hit by floods during the 2003 summer thunderstorms.
"This is completely voluntary," said Rachael M. Evans, a program coordinator for the Ohio Public Safety department.
The grant would enable the city to buy the homes and land from the residents.
Some mixed feelings
While some attending the meeting were excited about the possibility of moving, others were reluctant.
"I don't want to do it," said Bruce Walpole of River Street. "This was my home when I was growing up. It means something to me."
Phyllis Delbene, who owns vacant property in the area, says she is still considering her options.
"It's something to think about," Delbene said.
Those who want to sell will be offered pre-flood value for their home and property.
The home and property owners were told during the meeting that if they want to take part in the program, they will be contacted next week about setting up a time to have their land appraised.
"If you are not happy with the appraisal you can hire someone else to do a second appraisal," Evans said. "We want you to get the best deal."
After the appraisal is made, the city will make offers to the owners.
Mayor James J. Melfi applied for the federal flood plain mitigation grant in February 2004.
If the homeowners agree to take part, the city plans to demolish the eight houses, Melfi said.
Melfi suggested that a ball field could replace the houses that would be demolished.
To get the grant, the city has to put up 25 percent of the total $511,750 cost of the project. A portion of the local share, Melfi said, could come from in-kind services, such as the city doing the engineering and demolition work. It also would include paying city employees supervising the project.

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