Youngstown council rejects pricey green space plan against mayor’s wishes

A drawing from Fresh Coast Capital's green infrastructure proposal.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown City Council decided Wednesday not to spend $350,000 to pay for a green infrastructure plan — even though just moments before, the mayor asked that it be passed.

Chicago-based Fresh Coast Capital would have developed the plan to reduce stormwater going into the sewer system. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring the City of Youngstown to redo its sewage system.

The plan would have also allowed for things like advanced agriculture and greenhouse projects.

Commissioners claimed the plan was too costly, even though Fresh Coast Capital said it would match the city’s investment with $350,000 of its own.

“With their commitment for that dollar-to-dollar match, I would ask council to approve it expeditiously,” Mayor John McNally said.

But the majority of council didn’t buy it. The vote was 4 to 3 against the green infrastructure plan, with Nate Pinkard, Anita Davis, Lauren McNally, and T.J. Rodgers voting no.

“Our budget is pretty tight and I just did not see that this was the right way to spend $350,000,” Rodgers said.

Lauren McNally said the plan left too many unanswered questions.

“I thought there were too many hypotheticals in this contract. Maybe it would be something that the EPA would accept? Maybe it could be included in our long-term control plan?”

Julius Oliver, Mike Ray, and Basia Adamczak voted yes.

“It’s a shame. I wished we would have had a little bit more discussion, perhaps, instead of defeating the legislation today,” Adamczak said. “We could have put it back into committee for further discussion, so I’m just a little bit disappointed on how it turned out.”

Ray said the city missed a great opportunity.

“With the Fresh Coast bringing $350,000 to the table, I mean, we were getting a value there, where we’re getting $350,000 in free dollars.”

Council also approved another tax abatement for the Gasser Chair Company on Logan Way which has plans to expand. The company will get a 75 percent property tax break on the project over the next ten years.