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Youngstown Council Will Consider a Proposal to Pave Six Main Streets in Bad Shape - Vindicator

City council will consider legislation Wednesday authorizing the board of control to pave six main streets that the mayor says are in “horrific” condition.

Council will vote on a series of ordinances to authorize about $1.5 million in state funding for the work.

The projects, to be done sometime after July 1, would cost about $1.7 million in total with the rest of the money coming from the city’s auto-license fee, Mayor John A. McNally said.

“The roads are horrific and need to be improved,” he said. “They’ll be resurfaced and restriped.”

The roads are: McCollum Road from Schenley Road to Belle Vista Avenue, and Bears Den Road from Industrial to McCollum roads, both on the West Side; Oak Street Extension from Lamar Avenue to Jacobs Road, and Early Road from Cornwall to East High streets, both on the East Side; Logan Avenue from Lauderdale to Wick avenues on the North Side; and Gibson Street from Dewey to Palmer avenues on the South Side.

As part of this contract, four traffic signals on Meridian Road will be replaced between Mahoning Avenue and the Interstate 680 on-ramp. That stretch of road also will be resurfaced this summer as part of a separate project, McNally said.

Also Wednesday, council will consider providing $1.5 million to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. for three “Live Youngstown” programs to help encourage people to buy homes in the city. Each program is funded at $500,000 with the money coming from the city’s water and wastewater funds as a reimbursement after the proper paperwork is provided, McNally said.

One is to provide money to YNDC for water and sewer improvements to houses being rehabilitated by the agency in the city. There’s a $25,000 cap on each house with the expected cost for each at $10,000 to $15,000, McNally said.

YNDC rehabilitated and sold 25 properties in Youngstown last year, and the city wants to increase that number, McNally said.

Another program would have YNDC work with potential homeowners who would receive grants of up to $25,000 for water and wastewater improvements when purchasing owner-occupied houses in the city, the mayor said.

The final program is a revolving loan fund for qualified first-time homeowners to buy houses with no cap on the amount being borrowed, McNally said. YNDC will have access to $1 million in additional funding for the revolving loan fund, said city Law Director Martin Hume.

When asked how the city could justify water and sewer funding for this program, Hume said, “It’s a way to expand the water and wastewater system. We have a problem with the system because of vacant houses. If there’s not enough flow through the pipes, you get sediment buildup. We’re expanding the system by creating new users” justifying the use of water and wastewater funds.

The city is facing a class-action lawsuit from five of its water customers who question the legality of using water and wastewater funds for economic development.

The city has provided about $5 million – most of it in grants – to businesses, mostly in downtown, since 2010 in those funds. City officials say the money is for the water and wastewater expenses of those projects. The plaintiffs want the practice to stop and say it’s an improper use of those funds.

Also Wednesday, council will vote on specifically adding cigarette butts and gum to the list of garbage that would fall under its anti-littering law.

The law includes tires and construction material as well as “any litter and/or miscellaneous debris,” so throwing cigarette butts and gum on the ground already is illegal, Hume said.

Those convicted face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, he said.

Cigarette butts are being included as part of an effort to get a Keep America Beautiful grant for containers downtown that would attach to utility poles to properly dispose of them, said Hume and Councilman Julius T. Oliver, D-1st. The latter is sponsoring the ordinance.

“This is to increase the chances of getting the grant by having specific language in our ordinances about cigarette butts,” Oliver said.

As for gum, “it’s being added because it’s a problem, too,” he said.

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