JMHA watches fire aftermath

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority board of commissioners will ask their attorney to send a letter to the owners of the Creegan Co. building expressing their concerns about residents unable to return to their Washington Square Apartment building.

The JMHA staff reported ongoing complaints from the residents who were displaced last week by a fire that destroyed the Creegan Co. building next to the Washington Square apartment building.

“Hats off to the firefighters at that fire last week. They worked very hard to save the Washington Square building,” said Director of Housing Programs for JMHA Wendy Barr.

Barr also said once the residents return to their apartments a general cleaning will be performed.

JMHA Executive Director Joe Costantini said one apartment suffered some water damage but he noted the apartment building suffered little physical damage from the fire.

Steubenville Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi announced Wednesday afternoon an emergency demolition contract has been awarded to X-Treme Demolition of Wellsville, which tentatively plans to start demolition work Friday morning.

“They will be working with J&J Abatement of Leavitsburg, Ohio, who will be conducting the asbestos removal from the site. They are clearing their permit with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and will start soon. X-Treme Clean estimated knocking down the Creegan building exterior walls will probably take three days to complete. When that work is done the residents will be allowed back into their apartments,” Petrossi said.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci declared the demolition of the building an emergency and authorized the city building department to proceed with the review awarding of the demolition bid.

Petrossi said the demolition of the exterior walls will cost $10,000.

“I really feel for the residents, especially at this time of the year. I will strongly suggest to all of the residents they may want to check on renters insurance. If they had renters insurance they would probably be eligible for emergency housing. The JMHA does not have emergency housing available,” Barr explained.

In other business, the JMHA board approved a 2014 asset management project budget resolution.

The board approved amendments to the JMHA “One strike and you’re out” policy that formalizes the agency’s public housing and housing choice voucher enforcement program for tracking criminal activity in the city.

And the board approved a change in the table of organization that Costantini said will provide for more efficient management in the JMHA operations.

The board met in executive session to discuss the possible sale of property and personnel.