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Youngstown city departments hope to relocate in city hall

YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider legislation Wednesday to spend up to $150,000 to relocate several departments from the fifth floor to the second of city hall.

The proposal calls for council to allow the board of control to advertise and enter into a contract for construction and renovation work at the second floor of city hall, 26 S. Phelps St.

Except for storage of equipment needed for the ongoing replacement of the building’s elevators during the past few months, the second floor has been vacant since May 2018.

The departments that would move from the fifth to the second floor are: code enforcement, demolition, property rental registration, environmental sanitation and grass cutting.

The public works department, which takes up most of the fifth floor, needs more space — causing the moves, said Michael Durkin, the city’s code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent.

“It will also provide us with additional space,” he said.

The work would include using one of the three vacant courtrooms on the second floor as a place to have hearings for code enforcement appeals and special assessment appeals, Durkin said.

“Right now, we have to do that in council chambers,” he said. “This will provide us with our own space and we will be able to use it for other purposes.”

If council approves the ordinance, it would take about six months for the relocation to happen, Durkin said.

Work needed includes painting, carpeting and putting up a wall, he said.

The city is having one of city hall’s elevators replaced, which should be finished in about four to five months, said Kevin Flinn, the city’s buildings and grounds superintendent.

It will then have the other elevator replaced, he said.

The company doing that work has used the vacant second floor since October as the location of equipment needed for the elevator work.

“The relocation will make it a little more friendly for the public coming in to pay for rental registration and demolition permits,” Flinn said.

Also, the city is planning to eventually move the Youngstown Police Department’s Family Service Division from 20 Federal Place, a city-owned building at 20 W. Federal St., to the second floor of city hall, he said.

“It’s part of the mayor’s plan to get everybody into city hall and out of 20 Federal Place so we can rent that space,” Flinn said.

Two months ago, the city’s community planning and economic development department moved from 20 Federal Place to a space on the fourth floor of city hall that used to be the city prosecutor’s office.

The municipal court judges moved out of the second floor of city hall April 30, 2018, and relocated to the city hall annex, 9 W. Front St. after a $9 million renovation project was done. A few weeks later, the clerk of courts moved from the second floor and the city prosecutor’s office moved from the fourth floor of city hall to the annex followed by the city health department from Oakhill Renaissance Place, a Mahoning County-owned building at 345 Oak Hill Ave.

For years, judges had complained about the court facility at city hall.

The judges filed a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court in 2009 stating the court was too small and unsafe as there was no way to keep witnesses separate from those in the courtroom as well as a poor ventilation system and an unhealthy work environment.

The city’s three branches of government reached an agreement in June 2015 to relocate the court and clerk of courts to the annex.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com