Valley communities plan projects for 2014

By kalea hall

With the new year upon the Valley, leaders in Boardman, Canfield, Poland and Austintown already have projects on the list for 2014.

The opening of the Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown that is set for fall is one of the top events happening in Austintown this year.

“We anticipate an upswing [in business] with the racino,” said Darren Crivelli, Austintown Township zoning inspector.

Austintown received its first $1 million in November from Penn National Gaming Inc., the company building the racino.

The township will receive another $1 million from the project this year and $500,000 after that every year.

Austintown used $850,000 of the $1 million received to pay off a loan for a radio system purchased with Boardman Township for police and fire department use.

In the future, the trustees will have to decide where to spend the additional money.

The racino will have both thoroughbred horse racing and a casino. Approximately 1,000 jobs will be created with the opening of the racino, Penn National spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said. That number includes both the people the casino will hire directly and jobs that are created in servicing the racino.

Tenenbaum said the company always makes “a strong effort” to hire local workers. At the Columbus and Toledo racetracks owned by Penn National, about 90 percent of the employees were hired from those areas.

“It is part of our commitment we make when we come into a community,” Tenenbaum said.

About 1,000 construction workers are working on the racino. Most are local, Tenenbaum said.

With the racino coming to the area soon, two hotels also are underway in Austintown.

Austintown’s other major project in the works is a collaboration with Lane Life Trans ambulance company. The ambulance is ready, and the three-member staff for it will be sworn in at the next Austintown trustees meeting Jan. 13.

“We are really excited about it,” said Andy Frost III, Austintown fire chief. “It is such a good deal for the fire department and for the residents.”

In Boardman Township, Administrator Jason Loree foresees positive activity in the township over the new year.

“A lot of good things will be happening in Boardman,” he said.

The plans are to focus on “engaging capital equipment,” improving safety forces, exploring more collaborations with other townships such as the shared radio program with Austintown, and “to take the show on the road,” Loree said.

“In fact, I think what we are going to do this year is take our meetings out to the community,” Loree said.

Boardman developed a 2016 strategic plan, which helps to stay on top of township priorities. Many of the areas the township wanted to work on already have been checked off the list.

“We have done quite a bit on the strategic plan. Now we are into capital needs,” Loree said.

Loree said the township’s main building needs heating and cooling repairs, and the main fire station needs to be replaced.

Poland Township will focus on a lighting project up and down state Route 170, Township Trustee Eric Ungaro said.

A new trustee would like to see the township’s website updated.

“That is one of my main goals as a new trustee,” said Joanne Wollet, who replaced former trustee Mark Naples.

Ungaro said he started to have neighborhood meetings and plans to look for opportunities for more grant funding.

“I think that’s our big thing is to get aggressive on grants,” Ungaro said.

In the city of Canfield, two major projects will be underway in 2014: the Fairview Drive Storm Sewer Project and the Ohio Department of Transportation signalization project, according to City Manager Joe Warino.

The city applied to have cameras installed to monitor traffic on U.S. Route 224 and state Route 46.

ODOT is funding the $850,000 project, and the city is leading it.

There will be some changes to the city committees after a city charter amendment passed in November’s election established term limits for the members. Overall, there were eight positions to fill and 19 applied, Warino said.

At the Canfield police department, changes will come with how the department communicates with the public when the department devotes time to develop a Facebook page.

“We will definitely advertise different events we will be posting and it will also be used to disseminate important information,” said Chuck Colucci, chief of Canfield police.

Poland Village Mayor Tim Sicafuse said the village will be looking into applying for grants to possibly add more arts and entertainment to the area.

Mahoning County received a $750,000 Ohio Public Works Commission grant to fund the $2,809,010 elevated water tower to be built in Canfield Township on U.S. Route 224 between Tippecanoe and Raccoon Roads. The water tower will support the Westford and Ironwood developments.

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