Code enforcement plans unveiled

STEUBENVILLE – City code officials will go block by block in the LaBelle and Pleasant Heights neighborhood to enforce weed and litter laws as well as the property maintenance code in a new crackdown on violators.

Code Enforcement Officer Shawn Scott said he will work with Anthony Bodo and Ron Gaylord of the city’s building department to inspect properties on LaBelle on Tuesdays and properties on Pleasant Heights on Thursdays.

“We have started in the 1300 block of Oak Grove this week and will continue to the end of the street and will then come back on another street. We will send notices to violators and will follow up on the cases. If we can do a block a day we will cover the neighborhoods. We are committed to conducting this campaign in a cooperative manner,” Scott told City Council members Tuesday night.

“Our long-term policy is to start now and continue every week. We will let the neighborhood know we are coming and are going to be serious about a cleanup. We are also working with the sanitation department. Friday appears to be their lightest day, so if we have to clean up litter and trash we can have the sanitation department do that and we can bill the property owner or the tenant living in the house. Whomever is living in the house gets the citation,” continued Scott.

Scott said he plans to focus on Oak Grove and Wellesly avenues on LaBelle and Oakmont and Rosswell streets on Pleasant Heights

But Law Director S. Gary Repella warned the council members the cleanup campaign may need more resources the city currently has.

“We don’t have the manpower to tear dilapidated structures down. We can start the condemnation process for some of the collapsed garages in the alleys but we don’t have the resources for those jobs,” cited Repella.

“If this was easy it would already be done. We will get started. We will need the statistics from Shawn Scott to show where we are at. If we need to take more action we may come back to council to see what we we need to do,” noted City Manager Tim Boland.

Scott announced the city will hold a tire cleanup from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on May 31.

“We will have tire dropoff sites that week at the corner of State and Union streets on Pleasant Heights and at the city water tower on LaBelle. And we will be staging the collection on Lincoln Avenue across from the old Lincoln School. I am encouraging anyone with tires they need to discard to please wait for our tire collection. Don’t throw them over the hill for someone else to clean up,” urged Scott.

Second Ward Councilman Mike Johnson gave a brief overview report on the “broken windows” policy he wants to see adopted in Steubenville.

“It starts with the police cracking down on misdemeanor crimes. If broken windows stop one murder it is worth the effort. The city is already starting down the right road,” noted Johnson.

“We are doing the right thing and we need to do more and we need to report on what we are doing. We also need to show the statistics of crimes in the city. The chief and I are working on that,” commented Boland.

“The broken windows program may be just what the city needs. What happens next is important but I do want to proceed cautiously,” said Mayor Domenick Mucci.

“We are at a crucial point for this city to survive. This program will get rid of the bad actors. And our police department will have to be on board for this program,” stated 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna.

During the regular meeting, council unanimously approved a resolution declaring May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in Steubenville. A ceremony marking Peace Officers Memorial Day will be held at 9 a.m. May 9 at the Historic Fort Steuben Park.

Council also approved a third and final reading authorizing the city manager to advertise for professional engineering services for the Lovers Lane widening project and:

Enacted a new city employee table of organization for summer lifeguards at the Belleview Pool.

Approved a contract with Fort Steuben Maintenance for 40 street openings.

Authorized the city manager to advertise for proposals for vending machines in city facilities.

Directed the finance director to establish a special project probation fund for municipal court.

Established a safety fund for city employees.

Authorized the establishment of a water reserve fund.

Approved a resolution proclaiming May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness month.

Authorized the city to submit an application to the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association for a facilities grant for upgrades to the Belleview Clubhouse.

In other business, council formally approved Stacey Williams as the new finance director.

And 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf announced a utilities committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday to allow council members to meet with the water review board.

Council will meet in executive session at 6:45 p.m. with the state auditor’s office representative currently conducting a performance audit on the city’s water and wastewater funds.

Metcalf also said council’s utility committee meeting will meet at 6 p.m. on May 20 to discuss money received from a lawsuit against two contractors.

Boland said Aero-Mark of Streetsboro has been awarded a $20,178 bid for painting curbs and street markings in the downtown core business district.

City Engineer Michael Dolak said he will meet with a consultant from the GPD Group of Columbus to review comments from last week’s Lovers Lane open house.

“After our review we will make a decision on the options for the Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Mall Drive intersection. We will take that recommendation to the city manager and then to City Council for a final decision on building a roundabout or a southbound turning lane with a traffic light,” explained Dolak.

During the public forum city resident Joe Scalise continued to discuss reasons why he is opposed to hiring a part-time parking enforcement officer for the downtown business district.

And Rhonda Johnson of Wildon Avenue appealed to city officials to have a vacant dilapidated house on her street demolished.

“Raccoons are living in the house next to me. The house is deplorable and I can’t take another summer where I am afraid to be outside because of the raccoons. Something has to be done,” said Johnson.

Council also heard from city resident Delores Wiggins who said a curfew is needed in the city.

Wiggins also questioned why employees at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center are now required to park in an adjacent parking lot and not in the parking spaces in front of the center.

“These aides sometimes have to tell a teenager they are not allowed to do something and then face the possibility of having their vehicle vandalized,” said Wiggins.