There were two important and interesting meetings downtown yesterday. At the board meeting of the Trumbull County Land Bank, Matt Martin of the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership unveiled the plan he and Michael Robinson of the TC Treasurer’s office put together for future demolitions in the county.
This strategic demolition plan is a requirement for receiving money from the “Moving Ohio Forward” fund from which the County will be receiving more than $1.2 million. Most will be spent demolishing houses in Warren city and Warren Township. The full details of the plan will be released soon but the strategy is to focus the demolitions on (or near) city “gateways,” in areas near schools and in “clusters” of demos so that additional economies can be realized. Other factors still to be considered are health and safety related.
Warren Township demolitions are important because many of them are very near the Warren city limits in a tight cluster adjacent to Jefferson school.
Working from a large area map, Martin showed how TNP has cataloged and coded all the houses currently on the city’s demolition list in red, plus the additional houses recommended for condemnation and demolition in blue. There were 194 “red” houses initially; TNP recommended removing 8 of them from the demolition list for various reasons, while adding 236 “blue” houses.
The new total of 422 houses is greater than the funds currently expected from MOF will pay to demolish, but TC Treasurer Sam Lamancusa stated that he was confident that, “this is not the end of the MOF funds. Some counties are not going to be able to match the funds available to them, and that money will be up for grabs later.”
Exactly how many houses the funds will bring down is difficult to estimate because of the asbestos wild card. A simple demo with no asbestos may cost as little as $3500 while an asbestos-filled house can raise that cost by many multiples — as much as $15,000 for a single house; TC Planning Commission’s Julie Green, who administers the grant, estimates that 50% of houses have some asbestos. When too much asbestos is found in a house it is usually not demolished so that 4-5 uninfected houses can be brought down in its place.
The problem is further exacerbated by both Ohio and Federal EPA rules that limit the number of asbestos tear-downs permitted on a single block in a one-year time span (which can kill the cluster strategy) and impose special requirements of local governments that are not required of private citizens when they demolish a house.
There are lots of complications but the path is clearly one in which we are moving forward. One way or another there will be hundreds of dangerous eye-sores removed from our community in the coming months, like the one above on Porter Street.
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A couple of hours later I attended a special meeting of Warren City Council devoted to a discussion of the proposed $24.7 million bond issue and the proposed “One-stop” administration building. I’m trying to gather some feedback from Council members before writing about this either later today or tomorrow but the Tribune had a good write-up this morning; unfortunately they did not put the article on their web site but you can find it on page 2B.