YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – At its peak in 2008, there were 4,500 properties in Youngstown that needed to be demolished. That number is now down to 800 and the money’s in place to get rid of most of them over the next three years. Soon, Youngstown could be out of the demolition business.
The sounds of demolition echoed Tuesday afternoon around Youngstown’s former Buckeye School on Mt. Vernon Avenue, just up the hill from the former Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube.
“Very pleased, yes,” said Bill Hagerty, who has lived across the street for nine years.
Hagerty has witnessed the fires and vandalism at the former school.
“Cops are over there at least twice a week, so that takes a burden off of Youngstown police,” he said.
“It will affect these neighborhoods and it will make for a better place for folks to live,” said Mike Durkin, who runs Youngstown’s demolition program.
Last week, city council approved spending $8 million of American Rescue Plan money on demolitions. Along with money from demolition programs through the state of Ohio, Youngstown plans to get rid of 500 to 800 vacant properties in the next three years.
“We’ll have made that last big surge to help the city move towards getting out of the demolition business and into starting to rehab neighborhoods and putting money into our neighborhoods. We’ve cleaned out the blight and now we’re ready to start rebuilding. I’m hoping that this could be that last big surge the city needed and we can take that step forward,” Durkin said.
There was a time when Youngstown couldn’t keep pace with the number of properties that needed to be demolished. But now, it looks as if there’s an end in sight.
“We’re always going to have some sort of demolition but we’re not going to be in the demolition business like we are now,” Durkin said.
Among the buildings Durkin wants to be demolished is what was a Kroger behind the former McDonald’s on Market Street and the former Republic Hose operation on Albert Street.
As far as the neighborhoods, Durkin says the approach there is block by block — clean them up and make them sustainable.