Youngstown council vote could force an East Side man from his lifelong residence

Published: Thu, April 5, 2018 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick


Jose Rivera, 47, has lived in his East Side residence at 24 N. Lane Ave. his entire life, but he could end up losing it as part of a possible expansion at the chill-can plant being built nearby.

City council unanimously voted Wednesday to adopt an urban renewal plan that includes Rivera’s two houses and garage as well as the former Immaculate Conception Church.

“It’s not urgent that we have the” Rivera property, said T. Sharon Woodberry, director of the city’s community planning and economic development. “We have no immediate need for it.”

But Rivera said he’s unsure if he’s going to be forced to move from his property.

“It’s going to be hard for me to leave,” he said.

As for the amount of money it would take for him to sell, Rivera said, “I don’t know if there’s a price, but there might not be a choice.”

The church property will be purchased as part of the chill-can plant operation shortly, Woodberry said.

When the plant was first on the drawing board, there were several people who initially didn’t want to move from their homes, but eventually sold their property to the city.

Mitchell Joseph, owner of Joseph Co. International, is bringing the plant to the East Side property where he grew up. The $20 million project will have seven buildings and provide at least 257 jobs.

The company has the trademark to the chill can, which allows a drink to be chilled in less than a minute by turning a knob on the can’s bottom.

Also, council authorized the board of control to enter into a $66,240 contract with Arcadis, an international firm with an office in Akron, to conduct a study city officials say will almost certainly recommend a sewer-rate increase.

The increases are to pay for the approximately $150 million in federally mandated improvements the city is required to have done over 20 years.

The projects are focused on upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, a new facility near the plant to better control sewage in heavier rainfalls, and an interceptor sewer to keep wastewater from flowing into Mill Creek MetroParks.

The study is also required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works.

The study should be finished in a few months and will recommend a rate increase, Shasho said.

“There aren’t a whole lot of options” besides increasing wastewater rates, Shasho said. “We’re under a consent decree [with the EPA that] we can’t violate.”

Youngstown residents currently pay $98.87 per 1,000 cubic feet of wastewater.

In comparison, those who have their wastewater serviced through the Mahoning County Sanitary Engineer’s office pay $74.30 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Warren residents pay $34.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The city of Akron, which has a $1.4 billion consent decree with the EPA to make improvements to its wastewater system, charges its customers a general rate of $106.59 per 1,000 cubic feet. But that rate is lowered to $83.93 for houses that are owner occupied and is $68.45 for those who qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program.

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