By PETER H. MILLIKEN
A potential new location for Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman has run into a wall of opposition from neighbors on South Avenue who say the court would bring unwanted traffic to their neighborhood and threaten the safety of their children.
But the owner of the two-story professional building at 8324 South Ave. told the county commissioners his building is conducive to good security, has multiple entrances and ample parking and is on a main thoroughfare.
“Why would we put convicted criminals on parole or those accused of crimes in the front yard of our families?” asked Jenefer Basista of Mayfield Drive, one of nine neighbors voicing opposition at Thursday evening’s commissioners’ meeting at Springfield Intermediate School.
“Keep the courthouse out of my neighborhood, and please keep our children safe,” she urged the commissioners.
Victoria Davis of Westfield Drive expressed concern about criminals and additional traffic in the area, which includes a day-care facility and sports complex, where children congregate. She presented the commissioners with more than 170 petition signatures opposed to the South Avenue location.
“I am not trying to bring anything negative to this area,” countered landlord Joseph Sylvester Jr.
The Boardman court has never presented any security problems at its current Boardman Plaza location, which is near a residential area and St. Charles School, Sylvester said.
At $114,510 a year for 11,000 square feet of first-floor space, including interior remodeling and all utility costs, over a proposed 10-year lease, Sylvester said his bid was the lowest submitted.
He said architect Raymond Jaminet is completing drawings for the interior renovation of the South Avenue space.
Other bids called for a renewal of the Boardman Plaza lease and for a lease at Huntington Woods Mall on U.S. Route 224, Sylvester said.
County Commissioner John A. McNally IV said he doesn’t think the court’s needs are being met at Boardman Plaza, and the commissioners have not made a decision on a court location.
McNally suggested that the commissioners, court officials and Sylvester should meet soon with residents in their South Avenue neighborhood before any decision is made.
Commissioner David N. Ludt also said the commissioners haven’t decided on a location for the court.