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Former YDC transfers ownership

YOUNGSTOWN — As soon as August, the former Youngstown Developmental Center could be up and running as the reinvisioned “wrap-around” care campus.

Mahoning County commissioners on Thursday approved a memorandum of understanding, transferring the property from the state to the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board after purchasing it for $1.

The Western Reserve Port Authority will be managing the property for the mental health and recovery board and entering agreements with the nonprofits that will offer services at the 35-acre campus featuring 10 buildings.

COMPASS Family and Community Services, Alta Behavioral Health, Easterseals, Meridian Healthcare and Homes for Kids are some of the nonprofits expected to take up space there to provide services to seniors, youth and people with developmental disabilities. Boundless, a private nonprofit that offers “evidence-based treatment to youth with autism” in Montgomery, Licking and Franklin counties, is also expected to set up shop.

The campus’ tenants are expected to serve clients mainly from Mahoning and Trumbull counties, and others in the region.

“There is no other place that will offer the wrap-around services we will be offering here,” Mahooning Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said.

The campus is laid out in a loop just off Countyline Road between Austintown and Weathersfield. In addition to the largest building — formerly the central training facility –there is a service building with a commercial kitchen, an administrative building with a clinic and several residential buildings with kitchens, bedrooms, dining rooms and office spaces. The campus is dotted with gazebos and walking trails.

Though it has been vacant since 2017 when the state closed the center, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has maintained it, recently investing $1.1 million to fix the underground power system.

The campus is in pretty good shape, but in need of some care, said Sarah Lown, public finance manager for the port authority. There are no “big problems,” but little issues that need to be fixed, such as broken pipes and flooring damaged by flooding, she said.

Today, local officials are expected to meet with state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, and state Rep. Don Manning, R-New Middletown, to ask them to fight for funds in the state capital budget to make the improvements, Lown said.

“The bipartisan effort is sure to help,” she said.

The capital budget appropriations are expected to be announced in March, with funds becoming available in July, Lown said.

Lown and Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the mental health and recovery board, praised the Mahoning County commissioners for their support of the project.

Lown said Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti led the effort. Rimedio-Righetti said teamwork with commissioners David Ditzler and Anthony Traficanti was instrumental in the success of the project. Piccirilli’s staff, attorneys in the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office and Audrey Tillis, head of the county’s Office of Management and Budget, and others came together to make the project a reality, Rimedio-Righetti said.

“The need for this is overwhelming,” Ditzler said, and it is important for the community to react to the need for services by offering more, not cutting back.

The hope is to have the campus ready for tenants by August, so the Head Start program can begin in September, Lown said.

Piccirilli said he will be forming two advisory committees, one for the providers and one for the neighbors.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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