The office that supervises probationers plans to move closer to the courts and the jail, where their supervision originates.
“The target is some time before the end of the year,” for the Ohio Adult Parole Authority office to move from a storefront at 2503 Belmont Ave. to the George V. Voinovich Government Center, 242 Federal Plaza West, said Joe Dubina, the APA’s regional administrator.
Most likely, he said, the move to downtown Youngstown will be made next month.
With 30 employees, the Belmont office supervises some 1,450 probationers and parolees in Mahoning and Columbiana counties. The move is contingent on approval by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, which manages state office space.
Besides being only a short walk from Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, which sentences defendants to probation, and from the county jail, from which many defendants emerge onto probation, the Voinovich building is conveniently located a few steps from Federal Station, which is the area’s bus transportation hub, Dubina said.
Besides the central location, the Voinovich building offers cost savings, he added.
The APA pays $128,520 in annual rent for 9,000 square feet at the Cafaro Co.-owned Union Square Plaza at Belmont Avenue and Gypsy Lane, where it has been since the early 1980s, but that rent would drop to $105,300 annually for the new 8,100-square-foot downtown offices.
The APA plans to occupy fourth-floor offices in the Voinovich state office building that were vacated by the Ohio Department of Taxation when that department closed all seven of its offices outside of Columbus in an austerity move earlier this year.
“It would just make sense to have the Adult Parole Authority in a position where they’re accessible,” to the rest of the criminal justice system, which is centered downtown, said Tony Meranto, a local criminal- defense lawyer.
“I think it’s a fantastic move for the APA. ... It just seems like it will enhance the way they operate,” said Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Evans said the downtown location would allow probation officers the convenience of being able to get to the courts more quickly, but he said security and parking enhancements may be needed to accommodate the new APA office.
The APA had considered moving its Belmont Avenue office to the county-owned Oakhill Renaissance Place, but office renovation would have cost more at Oakhill than in the Voinovich building, Dubina said.
Dubina said he’s sure the APA’s workload will increase because of the new state sentencing law that took effect Sept. 30, which says judges should consider probation the preferred sentence for lower degrees of felonies, but he said it is too early to predict how much the agency’s workload will increase because of that law.
Last month, the agency expanded its Warren office, which serves Trumbull and Portage counties.
The APA will maintain its office at the Community Corrections Association on Market Street on the city’s South Side, Dubina said.