Grant to buy one last demolition

WARREN – Don Hurst has been waiting for 10 years for 264 Chestnut Ave. to be demolished.

Hurst will finally get his wish today when the city uses the last of its Moving Ohio Forward money to tear down the former multi-family house.

“It is going to open up the area,” Hurst said. “The house is an eyesore and now that I know there is asbestos in it, I really want it down.”

With the demolition of 264 Chestnut, Hurst will have cleared lots on both sides of his property. On the south side of his property, Hurst said an apartment once stood, but it caught fire, so it was torn down.

This is not the first house on Chestnut Avenue torn down with the MOF money. Two houses, just north and across the street from Hurst and another one about a block away were recently demolished.

The Chestnut house is the last of 151 homes torn down in Warren using Moving Ohio Forward funds. Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd ward, said having the houses torn down made a significant impact for his and other wards.

“I’ve had people step forward saying they want to buy some of the empty lots to put gardens,” Novak said. “Getting rid of these houses also has been a major safety issue, because it has eliminated places where people can steal copper and electrical wirings. It also eliminates places where they use drugs and possibly commit other crimes.”

Novak said the empty lots are an improvement over abandoned houses.

Mayor Doug Franklin agreed that Moving Ohio Forward went a long way to addressing problems associated with abandoned housing in the city, including depressing property values while increasing insurance rates and crime.

Moving Ohio Forward is a demolition program established by Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2012 using money from a multistate lawsuit of banks and mortgage holders. Approximately $75 million was allocated among all of Ohio’s counties for the demolition of blighted and abandoned residential structures.

The total grant, including Warren’s match of $500,000 was $1,355,094 million for demolitions. The bulk of the demolition contracts went to five companies, including Holton Inc., M & M Excavating Inc., Environmental Protection Services LLC and Safeair Contractors.

The average cost per demolition was $8,974.14.

Other companies that worked on the project were Asbestos Survey Contract ABS Environmental Inc., Michael Baker Jr. Inc., Howland Company LLC and Professional Service Industries Inc.

While Warren was the last of Trumbull County cities to complete the demolition of its homes, it had significantly more houses to tear down than any other community.

Although the Moving Ohio Forward money is running out, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership was awarded $3.2 million from the Hardest Hit Fund for the demolition of properties

The Hardest Hit Fund was created in 2007 to help Washington, D.C., and the 18 states hardest hit by the housing crisis. The program provides about $7.6 billion to develop local programs to help struggling homeowners. In Ohio, $60 million has been set aside to demolish abandoned and vacant homes.

In Trumbull County, TNP has identified 11 target areas that have 311 properties, either already owned by Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership or in the agency’s pipeline, where the federal dollars are planned to be used. Ten areas totaling 275 properties are in Warren. Another 36 properties comprising the 11th target area are located in Girard.