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College senior to run city’s “deconstruction” program

Published: Fri, November 6, 2009 @ 1:30 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — City administrators want to pay $39,000 to a college senior, with 10 months’ experience as an intern in Youngstown’s planning department, to develop and implement a plan to “deconstruct” dilapidated houses rather than just demolish them.

The city received a $39,000 grant from the state Environmental Protection Agency for the program. Steve Novotny, the 24-year-old Youngstown State University student to be hired as an independent contractor, wrote the successful grant application for the money.

Rather than using a wrecking ball to demolish a house, deconstruction is a technique to systematically take apart a structure by removing portions of it — such as wooden floors, copper piping or chunks of bricks — that is salvaged and then sold.

City council is to consider legislation to hire Novotny at its Nov. 18 meeting.

Besides writing the grant, Notovy has worked for the city through an internship for the past 10 months, and helped to deconstruct a house on Brentwood Avenue, one of two vacant structures taken down this summer using that process. The other house was on Illinois Avenue.

“I’ve gone through 10 months making the necessary contacts and doing the work and talking with the demolition guys as to what works,” Novotny said. “Quite frankly, it’s a new industry. I don’t know of anyone else who’s done what I have done.”

The concept includes selling the usable materials, which hopefully covers the additional costs and diverts those items from landfills.

For the complete story, read Saturday’s Vindicator or Vindy.com


1tylersclark(182 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

The headline and lead paragraph here seem carefully designed to stir controversy. Without reading further, the initial impression being pushed is that the city is making a questionable gamble on untested talent.

This is unfortunate, especially since this is an important program for the area, which by all accounts Steve is well qualified to lead. Plus, the City is only spending money to hire him that he obtained in the first place.

The City has been determinedly pursuing education and consultation about deconstruction, which takes advantage of the historic and valuable assets in our vacant structures while reducing the negative environmental impacts of demolition.

Another approach to marketing this news would have been: "City awarded grant for deconstruction program; intern leads effort". This seems a more objective headline that still gets the essential points across.

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2nlpavalko(12 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Tyler, it's been my experience that the Vindy has not ever been an objective newspaper, especially about news related to the city.

I agree, though, that it is a definite boon for the city. One more example of Youngstown trying new ideas and approaches to shrinking the city.

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3Bigben(1996 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Smart move all around-the more run down houses and buildings that are removed the better.Who knows maybe some native oaks could be planted in their place and we will have a mini forest in Youngstown .That would be a huge improvement good job folks.

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4PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Great program. Great hire.

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5NoBS(2763 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Just a hint to Steve Novotny, and I don't mean this with any malice. The PBS TV show This Old House has run segments showing them going to warehouses of old mantles, bathroom fixtures, doors, windows, and everything else one can salvage from an abandoned house. It's not all that new an industry - although it is new HERE. Perhaps he can contact the producers of This Old House and have them put him in touch with their contacts regarding salvage and deconstruction. He may be able to pick up some good information.

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