Mahoning County Land Bank invests more than $1 million in Campbell blight reduction
By Graig Graziosi
Officials of the Mahoning County Land Bank and Campbell city met jointly Tuesday to report the successes of the partnership’s blight- reduction efforts and to share their goals with residents.
Since the partnership began three years ago, the land bank has invested $1.2 million into blight reduction projects in the city.
The land bank is on track to acquire 100 abandoned properties and demolish at least 50 by 2019. Since the beginning of February, the land bank has demolished 17 abandoned homes in Campbell.
Debora Flora, executive director of the Mahoning County Land Bank and Dan Yemma, the Mahoning County treasurer and chairman of the Land Bank, were joined by Campbell Mayor Nick Phillips, the city council and the city’s property specialist Maureen O’Neil to make the announcement to about a dozen residents.
Flora said that most of the group’s recent work in Campbell has been focused on residential areas surrounding Campbell’s business districts.
“One of Campbell’s priorities is attracting new businesses. The business district is linked to the residential districts, so improving one is necessary in order to improve the other,” Flora said.
The land bank has worked alongside O’Neil to identify houses in need of rehabilitation or demolition.
“We’ve developed a great organic partnership with the city of Campbell,” Flora said. “We’re not like Superman coming into town to save the day. The city provides the information and directs us to where we can have the most impact. We can’t fix everything, the rest is on the city, and so far we’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit together.”
When abandoned homes are acquired and demolished by the land bank, the owners of adjacent properties may choose to purchase the vacant lots for themselves. After the demolitions, the land bank sends in landscapers to beautify the spot, often leaving simple landscape features — such as a mulched area of rocks and a small planted tree or a primitive wooden fence — or turning the area into functional green spaces such as rain gardens.
The land bank also leases its land for those interested in using it for projects such as community gardens.
“We’re blessed to have the land bank working with us and to have Maureen on staff here,” Phillips said. “It’s all about beautifying the city, taking the ugly and making it pretty. It’s hard to live next a house that’s falling down and has rats and raccoons living in it.”SClB