YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Ten days ago, First News reported on what Youngstown code enforcement officers are calling an illegal junkyard on Wick Avenue. While the city is actively working to clean up the area, officials say it’s not something that can be done overnight.
The Wick Avenue junkyard has vehicles, as well as boats and campers, in various states of disrepair — some of them have red tags, too.
One reason the junkyard even exists is because so many vehicles in Youngstown are being red-tagged and towed because people have abandoned them, and they’ve become blight.
“Most of those we’re red tagging right now are either parked on the front yard somewhere, inoperable or do not have valid license plates,” said Mike Durkin, Youngstown’s code enforcement superintendent.
The code enforcement office does the red-tagging.
Durkin says March to December 2022, 122 vehicles were red-tagged in Youngstown — 35 of which were towed. So far this year, 68 have been red-tagged — 16 of which were towed.
“Most of the time, it’s not just one vehicle. It’s two, three, four, five cars from a property,” Durkin said. “We’ve got to go back and keep going back, so it does take time to get it done.”
Councilwoman Samantha Turner said it’s a “pretty big issue.”
Turner represents Youngstown’s 3rd Ward, in which the Wick Avenue junkyard is located. Turner says an average of six vehicles a week are being red-tagged in her ward alone.
“Four years ago, I towed a car off of Emerson that had sat for about eight years, in the driveway in an occupied home. But it was creating a rodent problem,” said Turner.
Cars are also often left abandoned in vacant commercial buildings. At the former Mufflers USA location on Market Street and Philadelphia, a collapsed back wall has placed the 1928 structure on the demolition list. Among the debris, part of a car is visible — one of five left inside.
Durkin says this happens all the time.
“The tow truck companies just won’t just yank a car out of a collapsed structure, so they’ll have to wait until we pull it out and we’ve got to get them there,” Durkin said. “It’s a process.”
On Wick Avenue, much of the junkyard is now wrapped in tarp, hiding the vehicles from view.
“I can understand why they needed someplace for them. But in a neighborhood, again, is not the place for them,” Turner said. “They need to be moved … They’ll be up on their 30 days in a couple weeks, and I’ll be standing right here making sure that happens.”
Durkin says there have been positive developments over the past week week on removing the Wick Avenue junkyard. The city is working with other junkyards to possibly take the vehicles to. He’s hopeful they’ll be moved soon.