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Agency’s move to Niles irks Williams



Published: Sat, March 21, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick

The Eastwood Mall proposal was about $15,000 less than the Youngstown offer.

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams said he thinks the city wasn’t given a chance to do all it could to keep downtown an agency that provides services and assistance to about 145,000 senior citizens in the region.

The Area Agency on Aging District 11 announced Friday that it will relocate from the Ohio One building on East Boardman Street in Youngstown to the Eastwood Mall on U.S. Route 422 in Niles. The agency has offices on three floors of Ohio One, where it’s been for about 20 years.

The move to more than 16,000 square feet on the mall’s second floor above the food court will happen in about 90 days, said Lisa Solley, the agency’s chief of community relations, wellness and training. The current location provides less than 15,000 square feet.

Williams, a member of the agency’s board of trustees, said he’s been working for over a year with the organization to keep it and its 70 employees downtown.

Youngstown offered space to lease at 20 Federal Place, the former Phar-Mor Centre at 20 W. Federal St., owned by the city, Williams said.

The mall proposal was for $1,610,921 over the life of the 10-year lease period, Solley said.

The 20 Federal Place offer was for $1,625,536 over the same time period, she said.

If the agency had provided the city with the Eastwood Mall lease proposal, it could have made an effort to beat it, Williams said. But the agency refused to provide that information, he said.

Negotiations went on for several months, and it would have been “unfair” to give the city the price of the mall proposal and ask that it beat it, Solley said.

The agency will pay about $300,000 less at the mall over the next decade compared to what it paid at Ohio One, she said.

The agency provides services and assistance to those age 60 and older in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties.

The mall proposal also includes free parking and easy access to state Route 11 making it easier for clients to get to the office, Solley said.

Agency employees will pay less income tax in Niles. The Niles income tax is 1.5 percent compared to 2.75 percent for Youngstown.

In a prepared statement, Donald Medd, the agency’s chief executive officer, said: “The city of Youngstown is a fine place to locate any business. We appreciate the mayor’s and the [Mahoning] county commissioners’ cooperation over the years and look forward to continuing our mutual effort to help older adults in the city and county.”

The agency gave fair consideration to every proposal, but Eastwood’s was the best fit, Solley said.

Eastwood was clearly the best choice followed, in order, by 20 Federal Place, the Chase building in downtown Warren, Southwoods Commons on Market Street, and Ohio One, she said.

The nonprofit organization provides services for the elderly, administers a number of programs for seniors, and advocates for their needs.

The services and programs include helping seniors with housing, in-home care, emergency preparedness, meals as well as promoting independence by linking older adults with specialized health and social programs.

skolnick@vindy.com


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