The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 19, 2013

Conneaut will get details on 2013 demolition work

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — The city of Conneaut goes into the building demolition business this year, and wants to know more about the money they will receive to flatten more than a dozen dilapidated structures, said City Manager Tim Eggleston.

Last summer, Conneaut reached an agreement with Ashtabula County government to allow the city — not a county office — to manage the $150,000 in demolition funds the town will receive to knock down beat-up buildings. The next step is to meet with Ashtabula County Auditor Roger Corlett to learn more about the disbursement, Eggleston said.

The city is anxious to get started on the little chores that must precede the arrival of the wrecking ball, such as title searches, asbestos removal and project-bidding, Eggleston said.

But before the new money can be tapped, a years-old demolition program must wrap up its agenda in Conneaut. A couple of buildings remain to be razed through the old Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Eggleston said. Those hold-overs should be just a memory by the end of February, he said.

The NSP has helped the city eliminate some 21 nuisance houses and commercial buildings across town over the past few years.

Poised to take the NSP’s place is a new program, Moving Ohio Forward, announced last year. The program, designed to help communities deal with problems caused by buildings abandoned through foreclosure, is funded through a nation-wide settlement with a handful of prominent mortgage lenders. In addition to Conneaut’s allotment, Ashtabula is slated to get $200,000 through the program, while Geneva and other communities will share $150,000.

Moving Ohio Forward money must be spent by the end of this year, Eggleston said. He anticipated between 15 and 20 buildings could come down this year via the new program.

Aiding the effort will be Deanna Gates, the city’s planning/zoning manager. With City Council’s blessing, Gates became a full-time employee this year, and will use some of her additional hours re-evaluating and prioritizing the houses on the municipal hit list, Eggleston said.

Last year a couple of condemned properties were purchased and spruced up by their new owners, he said.