Property transfer and streets among council topics

EAST LIVERPOOL – City Council took steps Monday night to transfer property on East Fifth Street to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) so it can be sold.

The property was formerly owned by Patricia and Louis DeLuca but went into foreclosure. When it failed to sell at a sheriff’s sale, the city became the owners.

It contained a burned-out house that the DeLucas had failed to repair or demolish, planning Director Bill Cowan had said previously, saying his office contracted with X-Treme Clean to demolish the house after seeking quotes from several firms, with X-Treme Clean bidding the lowest at $4,330.

Once the CIC has the property, it can sell it without seeking competitive bids as the city would be required to do if it wanted to sell the parcel of ground. The next door neighbor has offered to purchase the property for $1,000 with the hope of possibly constructing a garage in the future.

Other legislation passed by council Monday night included an ordinance in support of the Columbiana County Port Authority applying to the state for the Clean Ohio Brownfields Program for an assessment on property formerly operated by the North Star Coal Co.

Responding to criticism lodged at the last council meeting, Deputy Service-Safety Director Dan Galeoti said the street department does, in fact, have a system for cleaning streets of snow during the winter months.

A resident had complained previously that the department had no grid in place for clearing streets, but Galeoti showed council a map and said each of the four trucks has its own map and own area.

“We don’t just run out there blindly as we were accused of a few weeks ago,” Galeoti said.

He said, however, that breakdowns have plagued the department all winter, noting 16 purchase orders for major repairs had been submitted out of the 20 work days during January.

Council President John Torma urged council to “dig down deep and try to give the street department the money it needs.”

Thus far this winter, Galeoti reported, 800 tons of salt have been used on city streets, with 150 tons left and 200 more tons ordered.

Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell conceded that salt and trucks are a concern and discussions have begun on the possibility of purchasing another truck with money freed up when a loan is paid off.

“The guys have done a heck of a job so far,” Estell said of the street department, adding that the volume of complaint calls has decreased drastically over this time last year.

Councilman Sherrie Curtis commended those city workers who have to work outside in the cold weather, naming street crews, police and fire and, particularly the “Water Dawgs,” who have had to repair several water line breaks already.

Estell also reported that Better City LLC, the consulting firm hired by council to help revitalize the city, will be in town next week, meeting with businesses and other agencies, putting together a target list of activities.

“Things have gone very well so far,” Estell said of the Utah firm.

One of the meetings set for next week with Better City is in regard to the former East Junior High building in East End, Estell reported.

In other matters, council:

– Approved an annual ordinance authorizing the Board of Public Utilities to advertise for bids and enter into contracts for chemicals, meters and supplies

– Approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Development for administration of funds from prior housing grants, which has to be renewed every three years

– Heard from Councilman Ray Perorazio that he is working with Cowan on possible changes to housing codes, saying money needs to be found for a full-time housing inspector.

Council’s Feb. 18 meeting was changed to the 19th due to observance of Presidents’ Day.