YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The building in the below photo is one of the last remaining of the “Wick Six” — the string of auto dealers that once lined Youngstown’s North Side. To its left is a large plot of vacant land where the mayor is considering building a brand new safety forces complex.
Most everyone on city council agrees new buildings are needed, especially for the police department, but not everyone agrees this is the right place.
The Youngstown Police Department is located downtown, adjacent to city hall. The central fire station is four blocks away. Mayor Tito Brown says both need to be replaced.
“They’re aging out,” he said.
So, the mayor is proposing a new combination police department/fire station on Wick Avenue on land where the Wick Six auto dealers once operated.
“I say let’s put something in writing. Let’s put something down on paper so we can look to see, is this what we want or what else can we do?” Brown said.
So, Youngstown’s board of control, which the mayor oversees, voted to hire Strollo Architects.
“What would it look like and can it work at this location? And if it can work, what’s going to be the cost? I still don’t know the cost,” Brown said.
The mayor says another big plus is that the city already owns the land.
“But a lot of times when we start asking about land that we don’t own, the dollar signs go up,” Brown said.
“I’m most concerned about the location. I do not believe that it is an ideal location,” said Youngstown council member Basia Adamczak.
Reporter Stan Boney: “Are you for that spot?”
Youngstown council member Anita Davis: “No, I’m not.”
Adamczak and Davis were critical of the decision-making process. Admaczak found out on the news.
“I think we need to spend some time and talk about it more. Get the input of our safety forces, our patrolmen, the firefighters and the constituency base to see if that’s something they would like to see,” Admaczak said.
The mayor also sees it as a way to redevelop this section of the North Side.
“If we become an anchor in a community, who wouldn’t want to live in a community where a joint police, fire and a community gathering location is right there in their neighborhood?” Brown said.
“We have more and more people moving into downtown Youngstown. We’re hoping to bring more and more businesses. So why would you remove your safety forces from the hub?” Davis said.
Any city expenditure over $25,000 must be approved by city council. The deal with Strollo Architects was done with two $24,000 contracts because, according to the mayor, they’re two different departments.
“You know, I get five departments buying from the same vendor of tires but different brands of tires,” Brown said.
“I don’t want to hear the BS that, oh, it’s two different police departments. I mean, police department and fire department. It’s a safety campus. It’s one locale,” Davis said.
“The city has the land and the space to put it there. So I think it’s a great idea, even more so to combine those spaces,” said Youngstown councilwoman Samantha Turner.
Turner also commented on the mayor doing two contracts and bypassing council.
“It wasn’t the most proper thing to do but it’s well within his right as the administrator of the city,” she said.