Enterprise Park issues warrant further review

DEAR EDITOR:

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency waived wetland protection for the 100-acre habitat along Mosquito Creek in Howland for development by the Cafaro Company. So much for conservation. I oppose this relaxation of oversight.

Mosquito Creek is a natural asset to Trumbull County, but continues to be developed and consequently downgraded as a habitat. Citizens submitted letters to the Ohio EPA asking the agency not overturn protection.

Environmental degradation is not the only weakness of the Enterprise Park medical campus. Various hurdles need to be addressed before groundbreaking. First is Mercy Health’s interest. Mercy’s investment would be $250 million. For that expense, officials paused their commitment after GM-Lordstown’s closure. Now Mercy will be pressured to reconsider. Is this a public matter? The consumer angle is patients pay for the hospital expansion.

The complete campus plan — seven buildings and 2,000 parking spaces — lists no prospective occupiers for the proposed medical, health and office buildings. An education facility is backed only by “discussions” with local universities. Apartments and condominiums are proposed despite congestion, population decline and abundance of housing. Holding company, North Eastwood LLC, a division of Cafaro Company, has contrived the property sitting north of Eastwood Mall. No alternative sites were contemplated. How will a $367 million investment be amortized over the lifespan of the facilities?

Before the project can commence, additional environmental permits must be acquired. Construction will discharge dredged or fill material into Mosquito Creek, impacting the lower Mosquito watershed. The deliberating authority on this is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Another clumsy stipulation in the Enterprise Park plan is that Mercy’s participation is conditioned by annexation of the new hospital into Warren. This has a public image consequence, city over township; it will also have employment tax gain to the city and loss to the township.

I express concern for my regional conscience. I am a member of two organizations that objected to the plan, Friends of the Mahoning River and the Green Party of Mahoning County. My career as an arts organizer has allowed me to work in neighborhoods from Warren to Youngstown. I work as a substitute teacher for Howland Local and Niles City School districts. I have worked in all 10 Howland / Niles school buildings and there discuss these fragile concerns with area teachers.

Four aspects of Enterprise Park warrant further review: first, destruction of wetlands and dumping dredge and fill into the pristine stream; second, no occupiers have committed to the proposed facilities; third, the weight of financing and utilizing the facilities with shrinking population and economy; and finally, manipulating village boundaries to massage public image and stimulate city taxation.

JIM VILLANI

Youngstown

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