Board of Control Approves Urban Renewal Purchases

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city’s Board of Control Thursday approved two purchase agreements with residents as part of the Near East Urban Renewal Plan.

The board – which consists of Mayor John McNally, Finance Director David Bozanich, and Law Director Martin Hume – approved the city spending $25,000 and $1,000 in closing costs to purchase two parcels owned by Juan and Lilian Salinas, and another transaction involving three parcels from Rose Ann Brown for $35,000, plus moving expenses and rental assistance for six months.

The purchases are part of a city plan to rezone 21 acres from residential to industrial green on the East Side in order to provide green space for potential business development there.

Community Development Agency Director Bill D’Avignon said that the objective is to turn the acreage into a business park similar to what has developed along Salt Springs Road.

Almost all of the parcels – 36 total – have been assembled either by the city or through the Mahoning County Land Bank, D’Avignon said. Eleven of those lots have structures where residents lived, while the remaining acreage was vacant.

The area is bordered by the Madison Avenue Expressway to the west, Oak Street to the north, North Fruit Street to the east, and Himrod Avenue to the south.

In July, the city’s planning commission recommended that City Council rezone the area. Before any rezoning can occur, Council must hold a public hearing on the matter. That hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7.

Initially, the proposal included land south of Himrod, but that plan was scaled back after residents living there voice oncerns over the prospect of losing their homes to developers.

The controlling board approved the city to pay contractor ProQuality Land Development an additional $154,000 for demolition work at the “Wick Six” development area, which was once home to several car dealerships.

Abigail Beniston, the city’s code enforcement officer, said one of the buildings at the site had a sub floor that wasn’t identified earlier and was found to contain asbestos. The change order covers the removal of the cinder block and its disposal in a landfill in Minerva.

In addition, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Taft Promise Neighborhood initiative –a broad coalition of businesses, agencies, residents, organizations, schools and churches t– o execute neighborhood stabilization programs in the area surrounding Taft Elementary School.

The organization is preparing a grant application to the Promise Neighborhood program for $1 million.

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