Council agrees to pay interest on state loan to kickstart local redevelopment project

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Youngstown's SMART2 project will redesign and relandscape the area of 5th Avenue through YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – After a series of questions and a little nudging, Youngstown City Council approved paying the interest on a loan for a major downtown redevelopment project.

Some members of council were hesitant, but in the end, it passed unanimously.

Youngstown’s SMART2 project will redesign and relandscape the area of 5th Avenue through Youngstown State University.

Wednesday night, city council approved the 5th Avenue part of the project. It will start this summer.

“The whole goal of this whole project is pedestrian safety,” said Director of Public Works Chuck Shasho.

Shasho explained to council why it should pay the interest on a $5 million state loan — to cover some anticipated overruns in the $26 million, three-year project.

“One of the things I can say is installation of fiber optic duct banks in the road during the project for future use,” he said.

The loan would be for seven years. The interest would cost Youngstown $75,000 a year to start.

Councilwoman Anita Davis had a concern.

“So Chuck, this $5 million, this is a hard figure? You’re not going to come back to us?” she asked.

Shasho said no, they would not be coming back for any more money.

When Finance Director Kyle Miasek said he was comfortable with $75,000 a year, council appeared to be OK with it, too.

The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is driving the project, and Councilman Julius Oliver said Eastgate is trying to keep the cost down.

“I know that the effort was to work very diligently to try and come in at or under budget for this project while still producing the best product possible for the city,” Oliver said.

Wednesday night, council also approved a contract with its street department workers after a compromise was reached allowing workers to pick their daily jobs.

Council also approved spending $60,000 to start the repairs on Fire Station 12 on McGuffey Road, which has been closed since late January.

Council sent an ordinance to redo a tax abatement for Youngstown Tool and Die — which wants to relocate to the former Exterran building in the Salt Springs Road Industrial Park — to a second reading.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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