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Council to seek funds for St. Joe’s asbestos removal

WARREN — City council unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that will allow the administration to seek a grant to remove asbestos from the former St. Joseph Hospital on Tod Avenue.

“This has been the city’s most dangerous public health hazard for the last three decades,” Mayor Doug Franklin said.

If approved for the grant, city officials are projecting the hospital may be knocked down by the end of 2022.

The grant for the asbestos removal will be obtained from the Ohio Development Service Agency.

Some of the funding for this project is being provided through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through its brownfield loan program, according to Warren Community Development Director Michael Keys.

Cost for the removal of asbestos is expected to range from $2.5 million to $3 million, according to Keys. The city will seek bids to hire a consultant to put together a bid package for the project. The consulting agency then will oversee the project.

Officials have not determined whether to package both the asbestos removal and the eventual demolition of the former hospital into one bid or seek separate bids.

“We don’t know how long it will take to get the asbestos out,” Keys said. “I’ve already had three different companies, all local, contact me about the possibility of doing this. One is within the city, one in Trumbull County and one is located outside the county.”

The hospital is in the possession of the Trumbull County Land Bank, which according to Keys, is allowing the city to do whatever is needed to facilitate its demolition.

Franklin said at a meeting held with Lt. Gov. John Husted and others in Columbus Wednesday, he was told the lobbying efforts made by Warren for the asbestos removal has led to new state policies that not only will help the city’s efforts, but also similar projects in other communities across Ohio.

Franklin did not elaborate on what these new policies were.

“I’m just glad we were able to be the model,” Franklin said.

Prior to the 9-0 vote, several council members commended the administration and others who worked diligently for years to get the hospital demolished.

“This is a major victory for the west side of Warren and all of the city,” Councilman Gary Steinbeck, D-at Large, said. “This shows what can be accomplished if we stick together. Let’s get this torn down and make the area beautiful again.”

Councilman Larry Larson, D-1st Ward, where the hospital is located, emphasized this is a culmination of years of work done by various public officials and community residents maintaining the necessary pressure to get the work done.

“This is long overdue,” Larson said.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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