Youngstown council to address West Side water woes

YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider an ordinance Wednesday for a $142,000 contract for engineering work on a proposed project to replace waterlines, several of which contain lead, to about 300 homes on the West Side.

Also under consideration for replacement is a water mainline with a history of breaks on Mahoning Avenue.

If council approves the legislation, it would permit the board of control to sign the contract with Arcadis U.S. Inc.’s Cleveland office, which has done previous work for the city related to water and sewer lines, to design the project for up to $129,500 and administer the bidding process for up to $12,500.

The actual project would cost about $4 million, said city Water Commissioner Harry L. Johnson III.

The city would seek a low-interest loan through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Supply Revolving Loan Account, which offers such loans for public drinking-water systems. In some cases, repayment of parts of the loans are forgiven, Johnson said.

“You have to have a project ready to apply for the loan, so by contracting with Arcadis we would be doing that,” he said.

The water main to be replaced is one of two 8-inch lines that run parallel along Mahoning Avenue between Belle Vista and Lakeview avenues, according to a letter from Said W. AbouAbdallah, an Arcadis vice president, to Johnson.

“The replacement is needed as the existing main has exhibited significant history of water main breaks,” AbouAbdallah wrote in the April 25 letter.

Water service lines on the south side of Mahoning Avenue are connected to this pipe, which will be replaced with a 12-inch line, AbouAbdallah wrote.

About 300 service lines to homes on the streets on the south side of Mahoning Avenue also would be replaced, Johnson said. Based on the age of the homes and the waterlines, about 200 to 250 of them contain lead though a definitive number won’t be known until they are dug up, Johnson said.

The streets getting new lines under this proposal are South Maryland, South Portland, South Lakeview, South Evanston, Milton, Halls Heights, Eleanor, South Whitney, Mayfield, McKinley and Olson avenues and Hampton Court.

“With the dense population, you can have significant impact by doing it together,” said Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th Ward, who represents sections where the project will be done. “It’s an area we’ve worked to stabilize with economic development and the concentration of demolitions over the last decade.”

Arcadis plans to advertise for contractors to do the work no later than Oct. 2 with the project planned to start early next year and be finished by October 2024.

“If this works out, we next want to look at some areas on the East Side” for lead waterline replacement, Johnson said. “I want to get the lead lines out of the ground.”

The city plan is to eliminate all of its lead waterlines by 2050, he said.


Council also will consider Wednesday a late item sponsored by Mayor Jamael Tito Brown to reprogram $5 million in American Rescue Plan funds. It was submitted Monday to city council.

Council had approved using $8 million on Dec. 15, 2021, for the abatement and demolition of vacant, abandoned and / or blighted properties throughout the city.

The city kept the money for that work in an account, but didn’t do any demolitions as it awaited word on an application for a grant through the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program. The Mahoning County Land Bank last Dec. 6 was awarded $6.9 million for demolition work, including $5.3 million to take down about 500 houses in Youngstown.

The legislation on Wednesday would transfer $3 million of the ARP demolition money to a citywide roof replacement program and $2 million toward land acquisition for community and economic development projects.

The remaining $3 million in ARP funding for demolition would remain with the city in order to abate and demolish about 200 houses, said Michael Durkin, the city’s code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent.

A first round of demolition projects will be advertised next month, he said.

The land bank is doing asbestos testing on the houses it will have demolished, Durkin said. That demolition work is expected to start in July, he said.

That reprogramming legislation is in addition to several ordinances for council to consider Wednesday related to ARP funds.

Council will vote to spend $855,685 in ARP funds with $730,685 going toward improvements at two parks: $430,685 for Lynn Park on Lynn Avenue in the 7th Ward and $300,000 for Hillman Park, also calls Falls Playground, on Falls Avenue in the 1st Ward.

Council also will consider rescinding $300,000 to assist with the redevelopment of the east side of Federal Street, and transferring $53,825 from the 1st Ward’s ARP allocation to the parks and recreation department’s ARP allocation for cleanup and beautification work in the Falls Avenue and Hillman Street areas.

The city received $82,775,370 in total ARP funding and has allocated about half of that amount.

Council will meet at the Covelli Centre again as repairs to the fire escape at city hall continue. A finance committee meeting to review agenda items will begin at 4 p.m., and the full council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.


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