Emotions run high during forum for Youngstown dormitory proposal

Local

A number of those in attendance complained about what they say was a lack of information on the project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Emotions were running high in Youngstown Friday as a group met to talk about the idea of building a dormitory for at-risk Youngstown students.

Those supporting the idea of a dormitory for city school students needing a safer place to stay are stressing that the proposal is still in its infancy. They say there’s a long way to go before any idea comes to fruition.

A group including Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick held a forum at the Rising Star Baptist Church to explain their ideas for this dorm and to hear from the community.

“We are trying to make a difference in the lives of these children,” said Pastor Ken Donaldson.

Most of those who spoke, however, questioned why the community is just now hearing about this idea, even though a committee has been working on it for the last year.

Perhaps the biggest complaint was over reports that the $12-million facility could be built next to the Mahoning County High School on the east side.

“Those days are over that you can come into someone’s community, and they don’t know anything about it, and you start something that you shouldn’t be starting,” said Artis Gillam, Sr.

Judge Dellick said even though there is talk of building next to Mahoning County High School, she said nothing has been decided. Any speculation is, in her words, jumping the gun.

“So this is not something that’s done, and it was just proposed that it could be there, so for anyone jumping the gun and saying it’s not your neighborhood, you’re wrong,” she said.

Although supporters tried to explain that the project was only in its infancy, at one point, the complaints drew an angry response from the judge.

“We’re going to find a place where these students are welcomed because they’re our students, and I don’t care if it’s in my backyard. They’re welcome,” she said.

In the end, opponents were still convinced that their concerns will be ignored, with Youngstown Board of Education Member Dario Hunter releasing the following statement after Friday’s meeting:

Judge Theresa Dellick seems to take the approach that people should have come to her to discuss the project. However, the community affected wasn’t consulted or notified about the project by its planners, despite closed-door talks well in advance of this announcement.”

Dario Hunter

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