Council talks demolitions, roundabout

STEUBENVILLE – The city administration asked City Council Tuesday night to consider borrowing $907,500 in order to demolish 55 dilapidated structures in the city.

The proposal to eliminate dilapidated buildings in the city was introduced by City Manager Tim Boland and Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi during a City Council planning committee meeting prior to the council sunshine meeting.

“We are currently using Community Development Block Grant funds to demolish 13 houses in low and moderate income areas of the city and will spend city safety fund dollars to take down six dilapidated structures elsewhere in the city. If we follow the Columbus model and issue obligation debt bonds we could make an immediate impact in our neighborhoods,” explained Petrossi.

Petrossi said he anticipates seeing approximately 10 dilapidated structures added to the list every year.

“If we pursue this we need to make sure we can pay the bonds back and we need to create a proper inventory of all dilapidated houses in the city. If we can afford this it will be the best thing this council could do for our neighborhoods,” said 2nd Ward Councilman Mike Johnson.

Petrossi said the city also may want to use CDBG funds next year to clean up dilapidated garages in the alleys in conjunction with the major demolition plan.

Boland said he plans to have Finance Director Stacy Williams and the city’s bond counsel to “walk the council through the bond process in the near future.

During the 90-minute committee meeting, Petrossi also discussed the city’s Comprehensive Plan implementation efforts, including plans for a civic plaza on Market Street between Third and Court streets.

“We are seeing more private citizens attend our implementation committee meetings every month and we have now established several subcommittees to look at different issues,” noted Petrossi.

Health Commissioner Shaleeta Smith who is on the health subcommittee asked council to consider legislation authorizing Petrossi to apply for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant in order to participate in the Science to Achieve Results program so individuals can test the air they breathe in the city.

“Even though the steel mills are not what they used to be, our air isn’t the best. This is a great program to be involved with, especially for our children,” Smith remarked.

Petrossi invited the council members to attend the Sept. 8 Planning Commission meeting to hear an Ohio Department of Natural Resources tree expert discuss trees in an urban setting.

He also suggested council look at proposed signage for the state Route 7 and Washington Street intersection in order to “create a wow factor for people driving into the city.”

“We also need a wow factor on the main corridors through the city, including state Route 7, University Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. We may want to look at a flower and green median on Washington Street where the yellow painted lines separate the lanes,” Petrossi said.

He also said the trails and greenways subcommittee is close to completing a bike trail loop design around the city.

During the sunshine meeting Johnson introduced an emergency ordinance to create a property maintenance code enforcement fund.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf proposed several ordinances, including legislation to proceed with the Lovers Lane roundabout project.

He also introduced an ordinance adding a water and sewer bill adjustment policy for nonresidential customers and adding a policy prohibiting credits or filling swimming pools as well as;

An ordinance authorizing guidelines for the water reserve fund.

An ordinance authorizing the finance director to establish the drug dog fund.

An ordinance establishing the Ohio EPA landfill closure and post closure trust fund.

Metcalf also called for a utility committee meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 12 and a finance committee meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 19.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul proposed an ordinance for the city to participate in the U.S. EPA STAR program.

Paul requested a safety committee meeting be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna proposed a resolution commending retired city police officer Leon Stinson for winning three gold medals at the 2014 Ohio Police and Fire Games in Clermont County in June.

And Councilman at large Kenny Davis introduced an ordinance authorizing the city manager to proceed with an electricity supply agreement with an independent broker.

He also proposed a measure authorizing the Recreation Director Mary Beth Sills to apply for an Ohio NatureWorks grant.

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