Suburban squalor in Austintown

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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.”

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