Warren's neighborhood groups saved the day earlier this year when they convinced city leaders to go after an Ohio attorney general housing demolition grant.
Now what Warren's neighborhoods really need are paved streets, safe streets and nice parks. If these important quality-of-life attributes fail to materialize, neighborhoods will not rebuild themselves even after the condemned houses are destroyed.
That means it's time again for the city's active neighborhood groups to step up and go to bat for their communities. It's time for them to help city council, and Mayor Doug Franklin's administration understand that streets, safety and parks are more important than borrowing money for a new so-called ''one-stop'' administration building.
We are not advocating against a one-stop or the bond. Far too much information is still missing to render an intelligent opinion on whether borrowing $10.5 million for a new building is wise. Hopefully, city leaders realize this and continue to do their due diligence before Council votes on the bond.
We are advocating that the city give streets, crime and parks a higher priority than providing new work space for its employees. Contrarily, however, the city is moving toward a September vote on a series of bonds, including one for the building that would put taxpayers deeper in debt for more than two decades.
One of a series of proposed bonds would provide $2.6 million for streets. However, some estimate that more than $4 million in street repairs are needed. There is no plan to address streets after the $2.6 million bond is spent. There would be a plan to repay the loan with interest.
Council was about to make a large mistake last spring. A 2010 survey found that nearly 34 percent of Warren's lots are vacant, more than twice the national average. The survey found 1,328 vacant structures, including 627 in such bad condition they were labeled a hazard to the community, and entire streets with their housing stocks so deplorable they aren't worth salvaging.
These buildings are havens for criminals such as prostitutes and drug dealers, dangers for curious children at play, impediments to redevelopment, and nemeses for nearby property values. That's why Warren's many active neighborhood groups, upon learning that Franklin's staff, and City Council were balking at a state grant to help destroy the worst structures, strongly lobbied for matching money to receive the grant.
About 450 houses could fall with the $1.2 million available through the grant because city leaders listened, found the money, and with the help of the Trumbull County land bank obtained the grant.
Now the city needs infill for the vacant lots to replenish communities and prevent more houses from falling into disrepair. The key to that is attracting new residents and enticing current ones to invest in their properties.
But that's not likely to happen when Warren can't maintain paved streets, help people feel safe or offer enough park and recreation. These are basic qualities of life that middle-class families research before deciding where to live. If Council approves the bond, the city would be required to make debt relief a higher priority than these basic services.
It's time for Warren's neighborhood groups to engage in some public persuasion. If they fail to convince city leaders to reprioritize, then every condemned house they worked so hard to get razed will very likely be replaced by another house that becomes an abandoned eyesore. The progress they are making in the neighborhoods they serve will be for naught.