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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

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

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.


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