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Realty Tower owners must take action quickly

In a statement Wednesday, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown stated that residents of the International Towers, which are next door to the damaged Realty Tower, must evacuate by noon Friday.

This comes after Brown announced at a Tuesday morning news conference that a report from Barber & Hoffman Consulting Engineers, the firm the city hired to inspect the Realty Tower after the May 28 explosion, suggested everything within a 210-foot radius of the Realty Tower should be closed. That includes the continued closure of the Stambaugh Building, which is also home to the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.

Along with the residents from the 23 units in the Realty Tower, who still have not been able to return to their homes after leaving everything behind, approximately 170 residents from the International Towers, many of whom are older and have physical or other disabilities, now will be displaced as well.

While the fallout of the deadly explosion from late last month has been tragic, the city continues to provide updates to the community and those who were affected. Brown also has continuously reiterated his stance on making sure that despite the circumstances, the displaced residents are taken care of and are the main priority.

A statement from his office Wednesday stated, “It is our goal to ensure that the core services and needs the residents rely on are not disrupted. To that end, providers have collected information from all residents and will continually deliver services to them throughout this temporary relocation.”

It added, “We know this is an incredibly difficult situation for all of the residents at International Towers and the city is continuing to work hard toward a solution regarding the status of Realty Tower so they can return home as quickly as possible.”

That being said, we must call on swift action from the owners of the Realty Tower — YO Properties 47 LLC — and whomever is involved in the decision making about the future of the building. Whether that be the company’s insurance agency or other decision makers, the future of the building must be figured out so those residents can return home as soon as possible.

The city has no say in the future of the building and Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works, said during Tuesday’s press conference that city officials expect a “plan of action for either temporary stabilization or a schedule, either a decision on whether the building is going to come down or not,” based on B&Hs initial report from the building’s owners.

During Tuesday’s press conference Brown said business people and insurance companies “are looking at their bottom line. My bottom line is the residents and tenants in that building and the public safety of this community.”

This newspaper tends to agree.

We understand that all businesses must be concerned with their bottom line, and they also must consider all options to make an informed decision. However, more than 170 people have been displaced by this tragic event and one person has died. A decision sooner rather than later will allow those affected to figure out their future and plan for what is next.

We ask YO Properties 47 and the decision makers involved to give the residents that opportunity sooner rather than later.

editorial@vindy.com

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