Published June 13, 2008
A newspaper's editorial column has a distinguished place in a community for trumpeting a most important issue and taking a firm and unequivocal stand on it. A local paper with a tradition such as the Vindicator need look no farther than downtown Youngstown, two blocks from its own headquarters, for material. Yet since Thursday, June 5th, when a window came crashing several stories onto East Federal Street from the century-old Stambaugh building in Central Square by workers removing as many as one hundred windows without a permit, The Vindicator's Editorial page has been silent on the crisis.
The Stambaugh building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1906, designed by architect Albert Kahn, and housed the corporate headquarters of Youngstown Sheet and Tube. Co-owner Lou Frangos, who has been buying up most of the rest of available downtown properties, declared the Stambaugh building a "lost cause" in 2007.
For anyone paying attention, this puts his behavior in removing the windows and exposing the building to the natural elements under heavy suspicion of what local attorney Deb Weaver calls demolition by neglect. "This term is used to describe a situation in which a historic property is intentionally allowed to suffer from deterioration, potentially beyond the point of repair."
Fortunately, the city appears to be doing its job and holding the owners accountable, insisting on plexiglass as a minimum standard for window coverings and expressing willingness to contract the work to get the windows covered and bill the owners if they don't take the steps quickly enough.
Meanwhile, here is a list of topics addressed by the Vindy's Editorial page:
Friday, June 6th: Washington finally hears the story of unfair trade (Unfair Chinese trade policies are killing American jobs)
Saturday, June 7th: Global food crisis not easy or cheap to solve
Sunday, June 8th: Chevrolet Centre's future must not be left to chance (possibility of no hockey next year in the arena)
Monday, June 9th: Northside tells its story (signs of life at Northside Medical Center)
Tuesday, June 10th: McCain, Obama contest will highlight differences (you don't say)
Wednesday, June 11th: Pain at the pump hurts families and the economy (another bold stance)
Thursday, June 12th: Washington, Williams must bury the hatchet (another editorial on Chevy Centre hockey)
Friday, June 13th: A championship season for spring sports in Valley (Canfield High School state sports title)
So, that's two stories on hockey in the Chevy Centre; a shout-out to the Northside Medical Center; four soapbox pieces on national issues: trade, food, fuel, and the election; and a tribute to state high school softball champs. For eight days, a landmark building is intentionally neglected, public safety is compromised, Central Square's signature footprint is at risk, and a city's newspaper says nothing.