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Youngstown council to vote on hiring firm for Covelli amphitheater

Published: Tue, December 17, 2013 @ 12:07 a.m.

By David Skolnick



City council will vote Wednesday on having the board of control spend about $90,000 to hire a firm for design and engineering work on a proposed amphitheater at the Covelli Centre.

The $90,000 sought in the legislation is an estimate, said Mayor Charles Sammarone, who is sponsoring the ordinance.

“It could be less; it could be more,” he said.

If approved by council, the legislation authorizes the board of control to hire a consultant to design the outdoor facility and provide a cost estimate for the project.

Building an amphitheater would cost between $1 million and $1.7 million, city Finance Director David Bozanich said last week. The final estimate would be determined after the design and engineering work is done, he said.

Hiring a consultant would most likely be up to Mayor-elect John McNally IV, who takes office Jan. 1.

McNally supports an amphitheater, but wants the city to focus on paying down the debt on the center.

The city borrowed $11.9 million in 2005 to pay its portion of constructing the $45 million center. The city has paid less than $900,000 toward the principal.

The amphitheater is needed to increase business at the indoor arena during the summer months, the slowest time of the year for the facility, Sammarone said.

If built, the amphitheater would be used about 25 times during the summer months. The center has about 100 events annually.

Also Wednesday, council will vote on paying the $50,000 deductible it has to its liability insurance provider, HCC Public Risk Claim Service, for a dismissed federal lawsuit filed by a former municipal court employee.

U.S. District Court Judge Benita Pearson dismissed the case in October filed in 2010 by Sheila Lawson, who was fired as Youngstown Municipal Court administrator in March 2009, four months after she was hired.

Lawson’s failed $2.2 million lawsuit contended the city fired her for racial discrimination and retaliation.

Judge Pearson dismissed the case after Lawson failed to appear for depositions in the case.

Lawson, a former four-year FBI agent, acted as her own attorney.


1walter_sobchak(2634 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

This ISN'T a fabulous idea for one big reason. YSU does not have an architectural school that would be able to handle such a project. While they do have civil, mechanical and electrical engineering students, architects are most certainly needed to make the project fit in the space provided, both physically and aesthetically. This is the same reason that some homeowners contract with a builder to do a home addition and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Bit, if you spend a couple of bucks and get proper advice, it can fit in and function well.

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2questionreality(722 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Southside wrote, "God, please help us from these lunatics!!!!!!"

I haven’t the nerve to imagine a being, a force, a cause busy keeping the planets in their orbits and then were to suddenly stop in order to "help us from such lunatics."

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3AndJusticeForAll(16 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm gonna pick on Walter a little bit here because his attitude is so reminiscent of those attitudes held by council members, a council president, and our nearly octogenarian mayor (You might as well throw the Finance Director in there, too.), who repeatedly refuse to use the resources of Youngstown State University. And, in those infrequent times when city leaders did ask YSU for help, they just flat out reject recommendations and well thought out, educated sage advice. They sit on their hands because they feel such recommendations or advice interfere with their perceived powers of influence on council, in the city, or in the mayor's office. The city's history is full of such anecdotal evidence.

Further, Walter, it is just an outdoor amphitheater. As someone unschooled in such designs, even I wouldn't consider making some haphazard addition to the Covelli Centre. I do know, though, that it needs to be built on our old brown fields, and for that you better have some kind of engineer, not an architect, assessing what can be built there.

In the end, I'm not certain why involving the community, involving graduate talent from YSU, and involving the mentoring leadership of a local consulting firm through STEM wouldn't be a good idea. In the least and by my calculation, it saves Youngstown taxpayers $70,000. I'm fairly certain most talented graduate students would be thankful for a $5,000 internship award in exchange for a dynamite project.

Honestly, what is wrong with people sometimes?!

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4walter_sobchak(2634 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure that MS already has some interns on their staff from YSU. But, the fact that this is an outdoor amphitheater is exactly why architects and landscape architects are needed for such a project. The big stumbling block may well be the contaminated soil that is south of the Covelli Center where the old still mill was situated. As I recall, when the South Ave. bridge was demolished and rebuilt, the construction workers needed to wear containment suits during excavation. An amphitheater would likely have a terraced layout which would preclude significant excavation due to contamination or the presence of large foundations from the old industrial machines and buildings. Thus, a fill-type structure could work for elevation changes. This will not be a simple engineering project and it would be best to get proper professional help. But, hey, maybe an opinion from a PE with a MSCE from YSU doesn't know what he is talking about.

The city wold be wise to let the design and engineering contract to MS Consultants since they have done numerous projects in this immediate area and they know what they are getting into.

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5republicanRick(1700 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Sometimes you've got to spend money to make money. Sounds like a great idea for outdoor concerts.

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6southsidedave(5185 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I quote from the article..."If built, the amphitheater would be used about 25 times during the summer months"....why not build something that will be utilized year-round? YTown devises ways to spend money needlessly.

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7city_resident(528 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Regarding the engineer vs. architect debate: The current layout of Central Square was designed by engineers. That's reason enough--for me at least--to involve an architect in the design of a new amphitheater.

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