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Youngstown council, city execs clash over demolition

Published: Wed, June 30, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.




For the second straight day, city council members clashed with members of Mayor Jay Williams’ administration.

Council members criticized administrators, particularly Buildings Commissioner Sean McKinney, for failing to show up at Tuesday’s council buildings and grounds committee meeting with a list of vacant commercial properties that could be demolished.

McKinney said it was a misunderstanding, and he’ll compile a list for council of all commercial properties that are being considered for demolition in time for the next buildings and grounds meeting sometime next month.

About 200 commercial buildings need to be demolished in Youngstown, city officials say.

After the meeting, McKinney told The Vindicator that a complete list of those properties doesn’t exist, but it wouldn’t be a problem to create one.

Rather than a complete list, McKinney distributed a document Tuesday with 22 commercial properties being considered for demolition.

He said the list was compiled by Sarah Lown, the city’s development incentive director, and two interns.

Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd, the committee’s chairman, said council is becoming increasingly “frustrated” by the administration’s “ignoring” what council members find to be important.

Kitchen and other council members — Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd, and Janet Tarpley, D-6th — said Tuesday they have asked the mayor’s administration to demolish certain structures and are ignored.

“We’re wasting our time by just talking about [council’s requests] and not doing anything about” them, Brown said. “The frustration is so strong.”

Williams said he understands “some of the frustration,” but council’s priorities are not being “ignored.”

“Until we see otherwise, that’s the feeling” of council members, Kitchen told the mayor.

“We give the administration the freedom to do what they think is best, yet our requests are ignored,” Kitchen said. “We may stop authorizing the administration for work it wants done.”

This is the second public flare-up in as many days between members of council and the mayor’s administration.

Council members got into a pointed discussion Monday with Finance Director David Bozanich over his recommendation that the city purchase the dilapidated former Paramount Theatre and seek state funding to demolish it.

Council is refusing to buy the downtown structure and have the city assume the financial liability of the building that needs hundreds of thousands of dollars to have asbestos removed and to be torn down.

During that discussion, Bozanich said if council had approved his recommendation last year to lay off about 60 city workers, there would be $2 million for commercial demolition projects.


1strojjj(27 comments)posted 6 years ago

All I have to say is... you folks are the ones who elected the 'boy' Mayor, who doesn't miss a party, and who has his 'own' agenda.

Quit crying about the Mayor and elect someone who actually cares about Youngstown next election!

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 6 years ago

Make Lou pay!

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3Valleys_Voice(149 comments)posted 6 years ago

I'll compile a list of commercial building, not hard at all. Spot out the dirty brick buildings downtown with boarded up windows and doors. Ever see the piece of junk accross the street from the new Williamson school of business at YSU? Their are dozens of buildings just like this. You could probably use firecrackers to take them down, or another quake in Canada if your not willing to dish out the $2.99.

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41970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years ago

It is a good thing when ANY bad house can be torn down. They are like a cancer that destroy neighborhoods.

Would be great to do whole blocks, but take what we can when we can. I think Y-town has done good job getting rid of blight since Jay Williams became mayor.

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5Bigben(1996 comments)posted 6 years ago

The more blight that is leveled the better.As for the residential areas that are rotting level them plant hardwoods and make parkland out of it.This is basically what is being done in sections of Detroit.

The rebuilds in Youngstown are taking place in the heart of the city as they should be.

As for the commercial buildings they will go it is just a matter of getting the grant funding requests done correctly.

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61970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years ago

Exactly Bigben. If a neighbor with an abandoned house next door can get the lot after house is leveled, they can plant trees, flowers, grass, and make it nicer.

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7Bigben(1996 comments)posted 6 years ago

Agreed 1970mach1.There are lots of options to improve things.Park land, like you said neighbors buying up lots and greening things up ,urban agriculture is another option that is happening in Detroit.The main thing is to get the dumps torn down.It makes you feel good seeing positive changes like that instead of the typical rotting ,crime ridden ,fire hazards.I guess even controlled burns by the fire Dept could be utilized for drills on some of them.

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8revzeke(4 comments)posted 6 years ago

... There are a lot of places I could go with this topic and its comparisons to Detroit's renewal --- suffice it to say, Youngstown's redevelopment program is riddled with incompetence, corruption, and personal agendas...
... My calls, letters, e-mail inquiries, and direct involvement with block-watch programs have been ignored, belittled, or responded to with outright lies... Sadly, my experience is NOT isolated !
... I bought the first of 4 houses and 10 lots in the Idora neighborhood in May of 2001... I've cut grass, shoveled walks, done community gardening, been an "annex" (for any needing assistance) to the former Solid Rock Assembly of God Church, that used to meet in the old MrPaul's Bakery building... We've been good neighbors... I'm a cash buyer, we did quick land contracts on the remaining properties, and were actively paying off old tax and water accounts... I've invested over $ 75,000 here --- and, I've lost it ALL to secretive eminent domain take-overs / NO due process / NO notification / No settlement / NO recourse --- crews breached the first of my secured and maintained properties @ 5:30 am on January 18th --- THAT was when I was told that liens for the demo were being placed against the home I was living in for the cost of the demo / we had until July to get out... ALL my other holdings were likewise doomed... The demo crews left that first structure open and in dangerous ruin for 6 months, before re-commencing work to actually take it down this week... I've already had to run off a crew that came onto my occupied property to begin tree & shrub removal without paperwork... NO one is being legally accountable, and true eyesore properties remain...
... What good are "community gardens" if there are NO neighbors left to tend them ? All these outside workers I see coming in to arrange and plant --- COULD have come in to help those trying to live here ! YNDC is simply a political sop for absorbing and wasting tax dollars... Good people are being hurt !
... I'm going to Detroit in August --- God can "redevelop" Youngstown by opening the earth and swallowing all the crooks and thieves in one swift act of overdue justice (with the same lack of due process & notification that we've received)... You'll reap what you've sown, sooner or later !
Rev JR Zeke Whitelock
948 Parkview Ave
Youngstown, OH 44511

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9joesmoe(48 comments)posted 6 years ago

My favorite comment in this is from bozoanich, "During that discussion, Bozanich said if council had approved his recommendation last year to lay off about 60 city workers, there would be $2 million for commercial demolition projects." WHO IS RUNNING CITY HALL?? Ruin 60 peoples lives to get your political agenda passed. So Dave you lied again when you said the money from layoffs was needed to balance the budget, but was really to get your pet projects completed. Mayor get rid of him he is dragging you down.

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10Dale400(2 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Iombardo has the right idea here. The most efficient way to remove blight is to level entire area's at once that will be the most benefical to the city's recovery. The problem is that its not just so easy as for the mayor or the city council to just go and demolish buildings. The cost is the major problem.

The interesting thing is that the only reason its costly to demolish ANYTHING is because of the EPA and the health department. They are afraid of people getting asbestos related diseases. Removal of this material is the only reason why its expensive!

Its government against government! The state and federal governments don't completely understand the problems our local government faces!

They need to re-evaluate the laws and regulations. Once an area with X number of blighted structures has X number of murders/crime incidents as a result of the blight in a certain time period, the asbestos hazard is no longer the controlling issue, therefor can be ignored.

Doesn't this make sence? If the asbestos fibers are really an issue, evacuate a few blocks around for 24 hours, soak the building with a few fire hoses and knock it down!

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