Warren's Office of Community Development made the news recently. I wish, on behalf of the citizens in this city, that the news was of the feelgood, moving forward variety.
Warren Redevelopment and Planning had their first board meeting in almost five years. Why did it take so long to have a meeting? Well, board chairman Kim Phillips was quoted as saying he had no idea why meetings were not called. Perhaps as the chairman, Mr. Phillips could have called a meeting at some point. Oddly enough, it seems not one person who attended the meeting thought it necessary to ask why no meetings were called, nor did anyone ask why a meeting was called at this time. It seems the entire point of the meeting was to get rid of the automatic appointments of the mayor, head of Community Development and City Council to the board. Since local government has been taken off of the WRAP board, does this mean this organization will no longer be accepting any money through or from the city? Doubtful. Does this mean there will be even more mystery, lack of transparency and openness as to how this organization acts? Probably!
What is going on with the peninsula property? This is the triangle of land where South Street and West Market meet. This is where WRAP purchased land at the astronomical price of almost $75,000 an acre a few years ago, and only recently bought two more parcels of land in this area. What is going on here? Am I the crazy one to think that if one dime of HUD or government money was used or loaned to WRAP for these purchases, they should explain what is going on? And I sure hope that with the hand of Mr. Don Emerson in reformatting the WRAP bylaws, we are not staring down the barrel of these machinations enabling new Trumbull Metro Housing in the area.
Of course, who knows if this reformatting is legal? WRAP bylaws state that a quorum for a meeting is half the board. The bylaws they were operating stated a board consisted of 25 people. Were 13 board members present for this meeting?
And the news that Warren's Community Development Director, Mike Keys, has yet to pull down one vacant home with the Moving Ohio Forward money was made public. Other areas have pulled down dozens of vacant homes with this money; why the delay in Warren? Was this office hoping for an extension? Why? Other areas made strides within the state-allotted time frame. Is this office just not used to putting out bids for work like this? Warren has been contracting for demolitions for decades. Does this office think that much work on demolishing homes can be done in November and December? I've heard that this work rarely gets done when it gets cold.
I hope someone is asked to fall on his sword when Warren has to send back some of this money to the state. I hope the citizens lay some blame on someone when even one vacant home, which should have been torn down with this money, is left standing due this foot-dragging.