Mayor John McNally expects the city to submit an application by Friday to the U.S. Department of Defense to assist the city with demolition efforts on the South Side and North Side.
Youngstown, at the suggestion of its Small Cities, Small Communities fellow, Scott Smith, is submitting an application to DOD’s Innovative Readiness Training program (CLICK HERE) to provide engineering and demolition services. Smith has been in touch with DOD officials who oversee the program “and they let him know that the city could apply for assistance, for example, in dealing with the demolition of vacant and abandoned homes and commercial structures,” thereby providing engineering training for reservists, McNally said.
“What happens is the Department of Defense will float that out there to all the reserve units. If anybody is interested in taking that on as a training project, they will come in to Youngstown and do that,” said Bill D’Avignon, the city’s director of community development and planning. “We’re going into this knowing it hasn’t been done before. We’re not sure when we will receive word but the project probably won’t start until 2016.”
McNally said the city is “aware of at least two or three other municipalities that [the Department of Defense has] talked to about a similar type effort, and we expect to be probably the first entity to apply.”
The two areas the city has identified are, on the South Side, bordered by South and Glenwood avenues to the east and west, and by Indianola Avenue and Midlothian Boulevard to the north and south; and, on the North Side, bordered by Crab Creek to Elm Street east to west, and by Gypsy Lane to the Madison Avenue Expressway north to south.
The city ran advertisements for two consecutive days announcing its intent to pursue the project, as required by the application.
“T public notice notifies the public of what the city would like to do, the areas they would like to do, and provides an opportunity for private companies, if they’re interested in performing that same work for free as the engineering folks from the Department of Defense would do, so they would provide such notice to the city, McNally said.
“We think it’s a very interesting way to address the problem,” the mayor said.
The city has made substantial progress in recent years regarding identification and demolition of nuisance properties but much work remains to be done, McNally and D’Avignon acknowledge.
“There’s an active list of well over 700 homes that are being processed and identified,” and many more have yet to be identified that need to be processed, D’Avignon said. Some 4,000 properties throughout the city are in need of demolition, he noted.
The city will partner with Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. to do an inventory of the designated areas to help identify specific properties that need to come down, as well as properties that need to be addressed through code enforcement, McNally said.
The city would be responsible for environmental studies and abatements of the properties to be demolished, as well as disposal fees for the waste from the structures.
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