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Suburban squalor in Austintown

Published: Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

Austintown struggles to find funds to raze blighted homes


Austintown Township Trustee David Ditzler, left, Fiscal Officer Laurie Wolfe and Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli stand in front of a dilapidated property at 252 Four Mile Run Road, one of six homes on the township’s demolition list. But lack of funding is preventing the township from demolishing four of them, including this abandoned house.

By Elise Franco



Even on a tighter 2012 budget, the township is slowly ridding itself of vacant and blighted structures.

Austintown Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli said the township board of trustees recently approved funding for the demolition of two houses — 4228 Crum Road and 5430 Rockwell Road.

Crivelli said these homes are two of seven that he hopes to see demolished in 2012, but it depends on whether the trustees have room in the budget. Crivelli said each house costs between $3,000 and $3,500 to knock down.

The Crum and Rockwell road houses “have been vacant for several years now,” he said. “As these homes remain vacant they deteriorate more and more due to weather and lack of maintenance.”

Crivelli said the zoning office intended to demolish these two homes in 2011 but used up its $25,000 demolition budget and was unable to take them down.

He said the properties are out to bid through April 27 and the demolitions should be complete by June.

Trustee David Ditzler said demolishing these homes remains a top priority for Austintown, regardless of budget constraints.

“Once you let those eyesores perpetuate, it seems to snowball and you get neighborhoods that start to fall apart,” he said. “We’re looking for funding and grant opportunities. It’s something we have to move on regardless and fit into the budget before the end of the year.” Crivelli said homes at 133 Ohltown Road, 3980 Nassau Court, 130 Third St., and 207 and 252 Four Mile Run Road, are also on the demolition list for this year.

In order to demolish a vacant structure it must be deemed uninhabitable by the township fire department, the Mahoning County Board of Health or the Mahoning County Building Inspector.

The pair of homes on Four Mile Run Road are across the street from one another and have been vacant for several years, Crivelli said. He wants these two to come down next but Austintown officials can’t move on the demolitions until they know if they’ll get money from the county through the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund.

“We should know in a few months and hopefully have them down by the end of the summer,” he said. “Otherwise the township will raze them.”

Crivelli said since he was appointed zoning inspector in 2008, 30 vacant structures have been demolished, by either the township or the property owner.

“These are an eyesore to Austintown, and no one wants to look out their window and see decay,” he said. “If we can keep up with the demolitions it will be better for the community as a whole.”


1lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Would it be possible to give the houses to someone to fix and sell ?

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2Wapiti(139 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Why don't the trustees find someone local to do the demo's rather than pay someone from out of this area?

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3UrbanBuckeye(23 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Demolition of houses "go out to bid" This means that companies submit sealed bids to perform the work. All submitted bids are opened at the same time. Typically, the lowest bidder gets the job. Trustees have no control on awarding to a local company if they are not the low bidder.

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4AtownParent(565 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

I am surprised Ditzler didn't ask the neighbors to help with the demolition like he did with the high grass complaints.

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5redeye1(5672 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Why don't they do controlled burns by the fire dept. That way they would kill two birds with one fire . They would get rid of the house and the FD could have a practice drill.

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6DwightK(1537 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

The problem with a controlled burn is that at the end of the day you have a burned up vacant property. Someone still has to be paid to bulldoze the wreckage, haul it away and make the lot presentable.

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7republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

When just one firemen retires, don't replace him for a year.

Take that $ 80,000 in savings from wages, benefits, and pensions and tear down all the homes.

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8DontBanThisDrone(1046 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

When salaries, benefits and pension payments consume appr. 80% of the budget, there just ain't much left over to do anything else.


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9HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

The drone above has it right. The township employees have somehow made 80 cents of every tax dollar theirs, which leaves little monies for roads, equipment, and house demolition. Some of the highest paying jobs and benefits the envy of the working world have made the golden trough the place to work.

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