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Youngstown council to weigh spending ARP funds for loan fund, ward projects

YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider approving about $5.6 million in American Rescue Plan spending Wednesday, which includes $2 million for a small business loan fund and $1 million for the city’s business facade program.

Also included is $2,592,250 in requests from Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, and Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward, for projects in their wards.

The largest request for council to consider at its Wednesday meeting is the $2 million for the revolving loan fund to be administered by Valley Partners starting Nov. 1.

The money would provide “access to capital as gap financing to enable small businesses to grow and generate new employment opportunities,” according to the proposed ordinance.

Valley Partners, which focuses on assisting small businesses in the Mahoning Valley, also would administer the $1 million that would be put into a fund to assist city businesses in need of facade improvements.

Both of those proposals are sponsored by Mayor Jamael Tito Brown.

The agenda also includes three requests for ARP funding from Turner and two from Oliver.

Council authorized giving each of its seven council members $2 million in ARP funds April 6 to be used in the wards.

Council so far has approved about $1.23 million of that $14 million.

But Brown has said several of the council-backed allocations are incomplete and may not comply with federal guidelines for using ARP money so he won’t support them.

To date, the only council-backed ARP allocation approved by the board of control — which consists of Brown, Law Director Jeff Limbian and Finance Director Kyle Miasek — is the $160,000 purchase of a former McDonald’s restaurant at 2525 Market St. to turn it into a police substation.

Council members want to meet with Brown and others in his administration to resolve this issue.

Wednesday’s requests are the first for Turner seeking ARP funds for her ward.

The largest item is $1,004,699 to support Youngstown CityScape’s “various proposed programs specifically focused on 3rd Ward revitalization,” according to the ordinance.

The legislation says there is a list of those proposed projects, but it wasn’t included with the council agenda packet provided Thursday.

Turner couldn’t be reached Thursday to provide information on those projects.

She also is seeking to give $150,000 to Ohio Urban Renaissance, located on North Avenue, to provide renovation of the facility as well as fund programming services for at-risk youth in the areas of education, civil responsibility, community engagement, healthy lifestyles, mentorship and workforce development, according to the proposed ordinance.

Turner is sponsoring legislation to spend $140,000 in ARP funding for Building Neighborhoods of Youngstown to provide “home roofing repairs and rehabilitation services for qualified residents” of her ward.

Oliver wants to use $572,551 of his ARP allocation to have the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. make capital improvements to the play area and outdoor recreational facilities at Hillman Park, also called Falls Playground, on Falls Avenue.

His other request is for $725,000 for a YNDC’s revitalization project on Glenwood and Rockview avenues and High and Bernard streets.

The work includes funding for “all tax delinquent vacant lots on Bernard Street, land clearing of parcels, replacement of any broken or otherwise failing sidewalks, replacement (of) curbing, landscaping and enhancement work, home repair of 321 Glenwood Ave. and three new home construction projects,” according to the proposed legislation.

The city received $82,775,370 in ARP funding.

Not including the proposals on Wednesday’s meeting agenda, city council has allocated close to $44 million in funding though most of it hasn’t been spent.

That unspent money includes most of the $14 million for ward projects by council members, $10.5 million for parks and recreation projects and $8 million for the demolition of vacant structures.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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