Demo of downtown building raises ire of Youngstown councilman

Local News

The abandoned building on Oak Hill Avenue last housed the Anthony's on the River restaurant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The demolition of a 110-year-old building near downtown Youngstown had one city councilman questioning if the demolition was needed.

The abandoned building on Oak Hill Avenue last housed Anthony’s on the River restaurant. Now, it has been leveled.

At a city council meeting Monday, Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley deemed the building unsafe and ordered it torn down. Finley says he saw bricks falling off the building and the roof was sagging.

“If that roof would have caved in, all four walls are going to go north, south, east, and west,” Finley said. “The owner of that building was just recently offered $200,000 to sell the building and he turned it down.”

The building was in Councilman Julies Oliver’s 1st Ward. In Oliver’s opinion, the building did not need to be torn down. He said the legislation to spend the money on the demolition was just introduced this week and hadn’t been approved, yet the demolition went forward.

“I asked each one of you all not tear this building down. How is it that it came down at 6 o’clock in the morning the next morning, and nobody said we’re tearing this building down the next morning,” Oliver said.

Mike Durkin handles demolitions for the city. He said after more bricks fell Friday, he contacted the demolition company and told they could come Saturday. Then, the exchange between Durkin and Oliver became heated.

Durkin: “I’m hearing through some comments through some council that they think this was some type of shady deal.”

Oliver: “Just say my name if you want to say my name, Mike.”

Durkin didn’t like that Oliver was questioning how the deal was done, saying “everything was on the up and up.”

Oliver mentioned a building on Federal Street from which the bricks are also falling.

“And that building isn’t being addressed. Well, maybe it is but maybe it’s a secret like this building was a secret, and I just don’t know about it,” Oliver said. ” Maybe it’ll come down tomorrow morning, too. Be transparent.”

In the end, the argument was more about council being told what’s going on in a timely manner.

Also at it’s regular meeting on Wednesday, council will vote on whether to place a charter amendment on the November ballot to have the salaries of the finance and law director set by council.

Currently, their salaries are 80% of the mayor’s.

City officials say it is needed to keep salaries of both positions more competitive.

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