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Council to consider legislation for North Phelps improvements

YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider legislation Wednesday to move ahead with an improvement project to a section of North Phelps Street that will turn it into a downtown pedestrian mall.

The ordinance calls for council to authorize the board of control to seek bids and enter into a contract with the lowest and best bidder for the reconstruction of a 24-inch sewer line and an eight-inch water line as well as the development of a pedestrian walkway.

The section of North Phelps Street is between West Federal and West Commerce streets.

“At the end, we’re going to have a fantastic pedestrian corridor that’s just another piece in the puzzle in ongoing development downtown,” said Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works.

The legislation calls for the cost to not exceed $1.8 million with the money coming from the wastewater treatment sewer maintenance and repair fund. About 90 percent of the cost is for the utility work, Shasho said.

If council approves the ordinance, the city will start advertising for bids later this month with a contract awarded in January, Shasho said.

The work, he said, would start in February and is expected to be finished by July.

The water and sewer phase could take additional time because the first 20 to 30 feet of pipes, by West Federal, are not easily accessible so a tunnel to get to the lines has to be dug by hand, Shasho said.

The sewer work was initially scheduled for six years ago, but was stopped after only a month of work because of previously unknown underground utilities that were directly in the path of the sewer line.

The pedestrian mall will include raising the street to be level with the sidewalk, decorative lampposts and a gateway arch that’s at least 13 1/2-feet high on the West Commerce side. Similar street improvements will be made to a small section of Phelps, north of West Commerce by Erie Terminal Place.

Also Wednesday, council will consider legislation to give raises to its management employees.

The raises are the same percentages given to union members.

If council approves the ordinance, management employees would get a 1 percent raise starting Dec. 21 and then a 1.5 percent raise Jan. 4, two weeks later. The employees would get a 1 percent raise effective Jan. 1, 2021.

“The money is there; revenue is moving in the right direction,” said Mayor Jamael Tito Brown. “We think it’s only fair to give management what the unions have received.”

There are 152 management employees — department heads and supervisors as well as nonsupervisory positions in the health, law, finance, municipal courts and clerk of courts.

Council last month approved education bonuses to management employees for the first time since 2017.

Most union members are eligible for the bonuses under their contracts.

Management employees with associate’s degrees received $405, those with bachelor’s degrees got $470 and those with a post-graduate degree received $565. About 50 employees were eligible for the bonuses.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com