Youngstown increases offers to homeowners to clear way for can plant

By David Skolnick


To finalize deals for property needed for a $20 million chill-can business on the East Side, the city increased its monetary offers to two homeowners by more than five times the previous amounts.

The homeowners – Natarasha Gillam and Bertha Tillis, both of North Lane Avenue – agreed to the offers that were finalized Thursday by the board of control.

“We weren’t going to stretch this process to common pleas court” and take the property through an eminent-domain action, said Mayor John A. McNally. “We wanted to be fair to the property owners. We believe we were more than fair.”

The city first offered $5,040 for Gillam’s House, where she’s lived for about 13 years, and then upped the offer to $9,000.

The board agreed to pay her $50,000.

Tillis was offered $12,000 by the city for the house she’s lived in for more than 50 years.

The deal approved by the board of control pays her $50,000 with a $15,000 bonus if she’s out of the house within 90 days of Thursday, which shouldn’t be an issue.

The board also approved $25,000 payments Thursday to Anna R. Martinez and Pedro Carmona, both of North Lane Avenue. Those properties were vacant.

Neither Gillam nor Tillis wanted to move from the largely empty East Side neighborhood but were eventually going to be forced out.

“They were offering me the bare minimum” to start, but “I’m happy with the settlement,” Gillam said as she was packing up her stuff. “The bottom line is I still didn’t want to move, so it wasn’t fair. They can’t pay you for your memories. A lot of things happened in this house. My mom passed away here. They can’t reimburse you for those memories. They’re going to tear the house down. It’s not what I wanted. I didn’t have another option.”

The greatly increased offers were done to settle the disputes and provide the land needed for the second phase of the Joseph Co. International’s chill-can plant that will be built on the East Side, McNally said.

The business will be bounded by Oak Street, North Fruit Street, Himrod Avenue and the Madison Avenue Expressway.

The $20 million chill-can center will be in full operation by 2018 and will start with 50 employees. After three years in business, 257 workers are expected to be employed there.

The company has trademarked the “chill-can,” which allows a drink to be cold in less than a minute.

Of the more than 100 parcels needed for the Joseph Co. business, about five are still being negotiated, said city Law Director Martin Hume.

The only properties left are vacant lots, said Abigail Beniston, the city’s code-enforcement and blight-remediation superintendent.

Also, the board of control agreed to spend an additional $135,000 on asbestos removal at two former Wick Avenue car dealerships.

The additional asbestos was discovered during demolition and abatement work at the project site, Beniston said.

The work should be done in two to three weeks at six structures at the former State Chevrolet, between Olive Street and Stambaugh Avenue, and the former Barrett Cadillac, between Linden Avenue and Sycamore Street.

Pro Quality Excavating of Campbell was hired in June for $362,500. The city had estimated the work at $620,000.

Additional asbestos was found a couple of months ago, increasing the price by $154,000. With the $135,000 added cost approved, the total for the project is $651,500.

State and Barrett were among a group of new-car dealerships known as the “Wick Six” on the city’s North Side. As the area deteriorated, the businesses left, with the last one closing in the early 1990s. There isn’t a new-car dealership in the city.

Like it did with the Joseph Co. site, the city plans to turn the Wick Six location into a green industrial location.

The city received permission from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to use up to $500,000 in wastewater money for this project after it was cited five times by the EPA between 2010 and 2014 for emission violations at its waste-treatment plant. Rather than pay an $88,000 fine, the city negotiated to fund this project.

Three violations were cited for failing to conduct timely emissions tests at its Poland Avenue waste-treatment plant. The other two were for emitting higher-than-permitted pollution from the burning of human waste and other waste at the plant and releasing it in to the air through smokestacks.

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