County OKs $75K to Assess Developmental Center

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Mahoning County Board of Commissioners took a key step toward development of the former Youngstown Developmental Center campus. 

The board, at its meeting Thursday, approved transferring up to $75,000 to the Western Reserve Port Authority, which will hire a contractor to perform an assessment of the 35-acre campus at 4891 E. County Line Road, Austintown. 

The port authority and Mahoning County are partnering with the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board to develop the YDC campus, which would house wraparound services for underserved populations in the region. 

“It’s exciting what happened today. We’re starting the process. We’re moving forward,” said Duane Piccirilli, the mental health and recovery board’s executive director. 

The campus, which provided services for individuals with developmental disabilities, closed in 2017. State legislation passed that year gives the county mental health board until June 30, 2020, to accept the property. 

The port authority has maintenance records going back about two years, said Sarah Lown, public finance manager for the port authority. 

“What we thought we needed in order to really fulfill our due diligence role is get a full assessment of all of the systems that are serving the campus … so that we have a very clear idea of what are the costs we’re facing today and 10 years down the road,” she said. 

The consultant will hire the subcontractors to address the different aspects of the assessment. Once a consultant is hired from a request for qualifications that will go out, the assessment should take about 60 days, Lown said.  

“This is part of the process to acquire the property,” county Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said. 

“It’s very important that we as a group of commissioners do due diligence,” Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti added.  

The local partners are seeking funds from the state capital budget – possibly $1 million to $2 million – to assist with any needed renovations and updates to the campus, Lown said. 

The entire project could cost up $4 million but the assessment will help determine the project cost.  

Services offered at the campus would include after-school and weekend programming for at-risk youth, respite programming for developmentally disabled adults, day programming for fragile seniors, transitional units for foster children or people on the autism spectrum who need to build more soft skills and life skills, space for single moths who need additional support services, and housing for adults with mental or developmental disabilities, Lown said. 

“It’s very important that our legislators open their hearts and their eyes and look at something that would serve the most underserved and not those that are the most served,”  Rimedio-Righetti said. 

The project will move forward whether or not state funds are allocated, Commissioner David Ditzler asserted. 

“Whether we do or don’t get state assistance is not the point. We need to move forward on our own regardless.” 

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