Work on Youngstown City Hall fire escape delayed yet again

Staff photo / David Skolnick ... Black markings on the side of Youngstown City Hall come from the former fire escape that was shut down March 9, 2023. More delays will keep a new fire escape for the building from being finished for another month. Work is being done off site to build the new fire escape.

YOUNGSTOWN — More issues mean the completion date of the frequently delayed project to replace the fire escape at Youngstown City Hall is now some time in mid-June and may cost even more money to finish the work.

The city is waiting for the concrete foundation to harden because it has to support the metal fire escape that is being fabricated off site, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works.

Also, the new fire escape won’t have a drop-down ladder and instead will have stairs leading to the ground so additional work will be needed to the rear police department parking lot, Shasho said.

Police cars drove under the old fire escape, but won’t be able to do that with the new one, he said.

The city will have the police cars travel behind the new fire escape, which will eliminate some parking for the department behind the building, Shasho said. Work will have to be done to find additional space for parking, he said.

That work could be included in this project or part of a separate one, Shasho said.

“We have to redo the police parking lot to get cars around the fire escape rather than under it,” he said.

Based on Shasho’s recommendation because of other additional expenses, the city agreed to increase the project’s cost from $1.1 million to $1.4 million on Dec. 20.

Shasho said Tuesday he believed he has “a little cushion” to cover the extra work in that $1.4 million budget, but wasn’t sure. It’s possible, he said, that the project could cost more money.

Earlier this year, the project was delayed because of other numerous issues.

That included additions to the project, the city having to resolve concerns from the Mahoning County Building Inspections department about the safety of those inside city hall between the time the old fire escape was dismantled and when the new one is installed, concerns about the foundation and problems with the measurement on the structure that will connect the fire escape to emergency doors on each floor of city hall that didn’t match, Shasho said.

There was initial debate between replacement and repairing the fire escape after a Feb. 3, 2023, inspection report determined the fire escape was inoperable. Fire Chief Barry Finley decided March 9, 2023, that the fire escape would be shut down until work to it could be finished.

Council voted April 19 to spend up to $250,000 for repair work and designs to the fire escape though Shasho said that amount was never going to be the final cost. At that time, work was to be finished in a few months.

But after Murphy Contracting Co. of Youngstown did repair work, including cleaning and sandblasting the fire escape of bird droppings and rust, it was decided in July that it would be better to replace rather than repair the aging fire escape even though it would be more expensive.

City council voted July 31 to allow up to $1.1 million to be spent on the project, including work already done by Murphy and designs by MS Consultants Inc. of Youngstown.

That moved the completion date to January.

But after more problems were discovered, council agreed Dec. 20 to raise the project’s cost to $1.4 million. Work did not start until January — four months behind schedule — and moved the completion date to late February or early March.

Additional issues — including the fire escape’s measurements and that changes were needed so the structure would connect to the emergency doors — delayed the completion date to mid-May.

Now with more delays, Shasho expects the job to be done in mid-June.

Since the fire escape was closed more than a year ago, city council hasn’t met on city hall’s sixth floor, where its chambers and caucus room are located.

The concern has been that too many members of the public attend council meetings, and it would be dangerous to hold them on the sixth floor.

Council meetings have been at either the Covelli Centre community room or the Mahoning County commissioners’ meeting room with the finance committee meeting earlier the same day at the same location.

Other council committee meetings and city bodies also meet elsewhere on lower floors in city hall or elsewhere such as the Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center.

The board of control has continued to meet on the sixth floor in the council caucus room.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today