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Youngstown Council will Consider a Proposal to have an Army National Guard Unit Demolish 15-20 Houses - Vindicator

City council will consider moving ahead Wednesday with a memorandum of understanding to have an Army National Guard unit demolish 15 to 20 vacant houses on the South Side.

The agreement with the guard’s 112th Engineer Battalion, based in Brook Park, would have about 40 members of the unit and its equipment in the city between July 8 and 22 demolishing dilapidated houses in and around Hudson and Idlewood avenues, said Abigail Beniston, the city’s code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent.

“The idea is they want to test this project out and do 15 to 20 homes,” she said. “If this project works, they’ll use other units next year [to demolish] 100 to 200 homes. They want to get through this first phase.”

The assistance from the unit “will be a huge benefit to the city,” Beniston said.

The agreement must be finalized by the city’s board of control.

Last summer, members of the Air Force Reserve’s 910th Civil Engineer Squadron, based out of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, helped the city street department take down about 80 houses on the South Side, Beniston said.

The difference is the Army National Guard unit will be doing the work on its own with its own equipment, she said.

Also, council will consider authorizing the board of control to approve a 75-percent, 10-year real-property tax abatement with Gasser Chair Co. on Logan Way.

Gasser, a 71-year-old company, plans to spend up to $923,700 to convert a warehouse into a manufacturing facility and hire 20 full-time employees. The project would be finished by the end of this year.

Gasser would save $46,675 in property taxes and pay $15,558 over the 10-year life of the abatement.

The company makes chairs for casinos, restaurants and hotels.

In November, council agreed to let Gasser borrow up to $923,700 for the project for up to 18 months at 0.25 percent interest and to give $50,000 to the company for water and wastewater improvements. None of that money has been given to the company to date.

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