Youngstown demo employee reprimanded for wrong information on house

By David Skolnick


A city demolition worker received a verbal warning — in writing — for providing incorrect information about a Wick Avenue house supposedly being demolished to the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary who then gave it to The Vindicator.

Jean Schaefer, rehab assistant at the city’s demolition department, received the warning Tuesday from DeMaine Kitchen, “for your role in relaying incorrect information to me as your direct supervisor.”

He added in the letter that the city has “a program of transparency and accountability, and we cannot afford to provide inaccurate information.”

The city’s website had the long-vacant and dilapidated house at 1321 Wick Ave. on the North Side incorrectly listed as “demolition complete” when it is still standing. As of Tuesday, the website lists that property’s current stage as “abatement.”

Schaefer said Monday that a “clerical error” had city officials believing the Mahoning County Land Bank was going to demolish the house.

The city planned to use federal Community Development Block Grant money on the removal of asbestos from the house and demolition, but a clerk mistakenly put it in the land-bank file, she said Monday.

If not for inquiries from The Vindicator about the house, the city wouldn’t have realized the mistake for months, said Kitchen, the city’s pointman on demolition.

Jan Pentz, who has lived across the street from 1321 Wick Ave., contacted the newspaper Monday about the structure and the wrong listing on the city’s website.

That house as well as the vacant house next door at 1319 are missing their front doors, most of their windows, in horrible condition and almost not visible from the street because of overgrown trees, shrubs and grass.

After Kitchen said the land bank was going to demolish the house, two officials with that agency said that wasn’t the case. The newspaper followed up with Kitchen, who was able finally to provide the correct information.

The city is looking to see if it can “rush” the demolition of 1321 Wick while the house next door “will eventually come down,” Kitchen said.

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