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Land bank to help Girard remove blight

GIRARD — City officials have been informed the Trumbull County Land Bank will assist the city with demolition funds for structures on West Liberty Street.

City council last fall awarded a $129,900 contract to Moderalli Excavating of Poland to raze 15 and 25 W. Liberty St. However, that work has been put on hold.

City officials have been trying to get the building owners to fix up 25 W. Liberty St. The two vacant structures sit on the southwest corner of the intersection of East Liberty Street and U.S. Route 422.

The Trumbull County Combined Health District had declared the property unfit for habitation and a public health nuisance. Mayor James Melfi said he doubts repairs can save the building, which housed a former Ben Franklin store. He said one of the walls is leaning against the building next door at 15 W. Liberty St.

The matter is being heard in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Melfi said he has received word that attorney illness has delayed the court case.

He said the state has contributed demolition funds to land banks averaging $1 million per county.

The mayor said he has spoken to Shawn Carvin of the Trumbull land bank and was informed the city’s $129,000 responsibility for the demolition will be picked up by the land bank.

The court case, Law Director Brian Kren said, involves getting the demolition done before the city can proceed with acquiring the property.

Last fall, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay approved a temporary restraining order, halting demolition of the building at 25 W. Liberty. Court magistrate Jami Bishop has met with Kren and the attorney for building owners Dan and Robert Penza.

The Penzas were given 90 days to make needed repairs so the structure can be compliant with city and health standards — and not face the wrecking ball.

The Penzas’ attorney, Jeff Goodman, previously had said his clients were optimistic they would be able to save the property.

Goodman previously has said he thinks repairs would cost about $50,000 to $60,000 to get the building up to city and health code standards.

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