Economic Development

Council to Consider Brownfield Grant, SMAR2T Items

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city will conduct environmental assessments on former gas station sites throughout the city for potential remediation, with an eye on preparing them for future redevelopment.

City Council will vote on an ordinance tonight to formally accept a $200,000 brownfield assessment grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and authorize the city’s Board of Control to enter into any necessary contracts or agreements to use the grant funds.

U.S. EPA awarded the grant to the city just over a year ago. Youngstown was among 172 communities and organizations nationwide that were awarded the grants.

The grant will provide funds to conduct 24 Phase I assessments and an estimated 16 Phase II assessments, T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s director of community planning and economic development, said. The assessments will take place citywide but will focus on the main corridors, she said. 

“There have been a lot of sites that we have identified that have potential,” she said.

Emphasis is being placed on high-potential sites for development, including ones where there are adjacent property owners who might be interested in utilizing the land once it is cleaned up.

Work will get underway immediately once Council passes the legislation, she said. The city is in the process of identifying sites, and once the Phase 1 and Phase II assessments are completed, the city will have to secure the funds for cleanup, she said.

Council members also will take up legislation related to the proposed Strategic Medical, Academic, Residential, Recreational and Technology – or SMAR2T — corridor project.

Separate ordinances sponsored by First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver will authorize the board of control to enter into professional services agreements for project design services for Fifth Avenue and Front Street.

Cost of the Fifth Avenue contract is capped at $600,000, and costs for Front Street topped at $171,000.

“The project is designed to be somewhat in the same manner of Wick Avenue,” with work on Front Street by the amphitheater and riverfront park now under construction as well as Fifth Avenue, Oliver said.

Another piece of legislation states the city’s support for the Eastgate Regional Council of Government’s application to the U.S. Department of Transportation for funding from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development – or BUILD – Discretionary Grants program to fund the SMAR2T project.

Eastgate and its partners unsuccessfully applied twice to fund SMAR2T – an initiative of transportation infrastructure improvements along Fifth Avenue near the central business district, Youngstown State University and St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, under the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery program.

Other partners in the SMAR2T initiative include Eastern Gateway Community College, Mercy Health, Western Reserve Transit Authority and YSU.

Following a debriefing by USDOT officials regarding areas of concern with the 2017 TIGER application, Eastgate is preparing a new application to be submitted by the department’s July 19 deadline for the program.

“We meet weekly and we’re working on it daily,” Jim Kinnick, Eastgate’s executive director, said. He described the new application as being more “data driven.”

Eastgate still is “fine tuning” the numbers as to the amount to be requested, Kinnick said. On the previous application the partners sought about $10 million but this time might seek $11 million to include funding for an autonomous transit shuttle.

Pictured: Former gas station site on Market Street has potential for future redevelopment.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.