YOUNGSTOWN - Mayor Charles Sammarone wants to sell the city's mineral rights and use the money for demolition and redeveloping neighborhoods.
Sammarone said Tuesday he has instructed the city engineer's office to find out how much land the city may own that could produce revenue through minerals, and when that survey is completed, he will submit an ordinance to members of city council asking them to approve his plan.
Sammarone said he got the idea when two neighboring cities, Campbell and Struthers, recently announced they will be selling their mineral rights.
Since he took over as mayor last fall, one of Sammarone's key priorities is to cut down on the city's vacant housing stock and improve its neighborhoods.
Sammarone said the city has received $1 million in state funds for demolition and has matched that with an additional $1 million, but that is not enough to demolish the more than 1,000 homes on the city's demolition list. The average cost is $7,500 a demolition, which means the money they have is only enough to demolish about 250 homes, he said.
''We have a big demolition problem in the city and the only way to solve it is money,'' Sammarone said.
The city also has an estimated 4,000 additional vacant structures that if not sold or used could end up being on the demolition list, Sammarone said.
Additional money also will be used to repair sidewalks, streets and other items in neighborhoods, Sammarone said.
In Trumbull County, Lakeview, Mathews and Southington school districts are among entities that have leased the mineral rights on land they own earlier this year to take advantage of the uptick in shale drilling activities in the area.
Mathews Local Schools Superintendent Lewis Lowery said the district planned to use the lease money to fix ongoing septic system problems. Mathews in April signed a deal through Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley on 87 acres with a signing bonus of $3,900 an acre.
About two weeks ago, Youngstown unveiled a new section on its website that allows residents to track property code violations and the status of properties slated for demolition. Sammarone said his goal as mayor is to demolish 1,000 abandoned homes before he leaves office.