Council trying to replace old school

Officials are hoping for grant funds to make the deal
a reality.



GIRARD — After years of discussion, city officials are trying to move closer to replacing the old North Avenue School building with a second facility for senior citizens.

Members of council gave a first reading to legislation that would authorize the service director to enter into a contract with Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority and Dr. Chander Kohli, current property owner, for the demolition of the run-down school building on North Avenue.

Donald W. Emerson Jr., executive director of TMHA, said the housing authority would then place a midlevel senior complex with about 40 units on one parcel of the property. Kohli would maintain ownership of the rest of the property.

TMHA currently operates an 80-unit facility, Northview Senior Citizen high-rise, also on North Avenue. Emerson said the new facility, if built, would help take some of the demand off the existing facility.

“We have a big demand for our existing [senior] property. I have always known there was a need for additional senior housing in Girard, and we wanted to accommodate that,” he said.

The new housing units would be across from the existing senior facility.

Grant needed

The plans are contingent on the city and TMHA successfully acquiring a Community Development Block Grant. Emerson said such a grant has been unsuccessfully sought twice in the last two years.

Officials should know in October if the grant has been approved.

According to the ordinance, the city’s share for demolition of the building would be $85,000 paid from two sources — $45,000 from the grant and $40,000 from the city’s general fund.

Tom Seidler, 3rd Ward councilman, said entering into the agreement and getting rid of the old building will be good for the city, should the grant be approved.

“This is a win, win for the city. We get additional senior housing and get rid of an eyesore that has been there for 30 years,” he said.

Seidler said he has received numerous complaints about the building and said safety forces do not want to enter the facility because of the dilapidated and unsafe conditions inside.

In other business, city Auditor Sam Zirafi announced that Girard’s general fund finished June in the black — the first time the general fund has closed any month in the black since 1998.

The general fund closed the month $17,000 in the black. Mayor James Melfi said the focus will now be to keep the fund that way.

“We worked long and hard to get to this point from $2.5 million in debt. The challenge has been to eliminate the debt. Now we will work to maintain and increase the general fund,” he said. “I have been waiting for this day for a long time.”

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