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YSU-downtown studies pacts OK'd



Published: Wed, October 18, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



A finalized study is expected in December.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The city's board of control approved two contracts with MS Consultants for a transportation study and a site assessment of a plan to link Youngstown State University to downtown.

The board approved the two contracts Tuesday.

MS Consultants, based in Youngstown, began work two months ago on the transportation study after receiving verbal approval from the city to proceed, said Carmen S. Conglose Jr., deputy director of the city's public works department.

The company is examining the impact the Lincoln-Rayen-Wood development district would have on traffic patterns, particularly the proposed extension of Hazel Street.

The development district includes 38 acres at and near Youngstown State University. The plan's key project is the construction by YSU of a 30 million College of Business Administration on Phelps and Hazel streets and Rayen Avenue.

Some business owners in the area oppose the Hazel Street extension. To extend the street, the city has to obtain Grenga Machine & amp; Welding Co., an assembly and manufacturing facility on West Rayen Avenue. Joseph Grenga, its owner, refuses to sell his property.

Three business owners in that area suggest the college be built on the former Phar-Mor parking lot at Wick Avenue and Commerce Street with a pedestrian walkway on the west side of Lincoln Avenue to West Federal Street.

Study nearing completion

MS is putting the finishing touches on the draft study, at a cost to the city of about 33,000, Conglose said. The study will include recommendations as to what is needed to the streets in that area with a focus on accommodating the new YSU building, he said.

The city will release the draft study at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 9 in the Chevrolet Centre's community room. The city will take comments at the meeting and for two weeks afterward, Conglose said. The city and MS will evaluate the comments and expect to present a finalized study to city council in December for approval, he said.

The city board also approved an 8,940 contract with MS to conduct a site assessment of five buildings, including Grenga's, in that area. The assessment would provide a historical perspective of the area to determine if there is anything potentially hazardous in the buildings, said Jeff Chagnot, the city's economic development director. The assessment will take 90 days to complete, he said.

Testing phase

From there, a second phase would be done to actually test the sites for hazardous materials, he said. The two phases are needed for the city to apply for state grants through the Clean Ohio Fund to potentially demolish the five structures to build the Hazel Street extension, Chagnot said.

"How would they determine how much asbestos is in my building from the outside?" Grenga said. "They'd have to do it from the outside. I find it hard to put into words how I feel about this. They're trying to take my property."

City council approved legislation in June to approve the development district with the provisions that additional public input be obtained and further analysis and evaluation of the plan be done.

skolnick@vindy.com




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