The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 14, 2013

Geauga County gives Ashtabula County $95,000 in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Commissioners learned Tuesday that the county will receive an additional $95,000 in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds (NSF) this month. The catch is, any demolition funded by the money must be wrapped up by the end of the month, said Janice Switzer, program manager for the department of planning and community services.

The money is coming from Geauga County’s allocation of the funds, which are used to bring down blighted homes. Switzer said Geauga County did not have any projects that could be completed by the spending deadline and offered the funds to Ashtabula County.

“We have two that have been on our list a long time,” Switzer said. “We didn’t think we had any money to (bring them down with).”

During Tuesday’s agenda meeting, commissioners approved a contract with Demshar Environmental of Forman Road, Jefferson, to bring down a West Prospect, Saybrook Township property. Cost is not to exceed $24,220, and the work must be completed by Feb. 28.

The board also approved a similar contract with Demshar to bring down a North Ridge East property in Ashtabula Township. That contract is not to exceed $23,220.

Switzer said that Ashtabula has a house it would like to bring down with the money from Geauga County, and the cost of that project is estimated at $20,000.

The balance will go to Conneaut, which has three properties on a high-priority list for demolition. The properties are on Nickel Plate Avenue and Jefferson and Clark streets. Resolutions on those contracts cannot be presented to the board until asbestos reports are completed.

Commissioner Dan Claypool questioned the use of NSF money to take down more houses in Conneaut while houses in some of the townships have not received attention. Switzer agreed that the majority of the houses have been in municipalities, but said there is a longer, more complicated process involved in getting the necessary clearances to take down a house in a township.

“We cannot just go in and take them down,” she said.

Claypool said there is a house in Lenox Township that has been on the list for a year; Switzer countered by saying there are houses elsewhere in the county that have been on a demolition list for five years.

For now, the county needs to focus on projects that are “shovel ready” so the Feb. 28 deadline is met.

“It has to be invoiced, (torn) down or very close to coming down,” she said. “The biggest problem is waiting on asbestos testing.”