Port Authority eyes old restaurant

VIENNA – The old Airport Inn on Youngstown Kingsville Road has been in the hands of the Trumbull County Land Bank for about 18 months, but the Western Reserve Port Authority is getting ready to purchase it, now that the board has given it the go-ahead.

“We hope to put a cell phone parking lot there,” said Dan Dickten, Director of Aviation at the Youngstown Warren Regional Airport.

Dickten said individuals will be able to wait in their cars in the lot until they receive a phone call from arriving passengers that they are picking up at the airport less than a mile down the road.

The Port Authority approved the $8,000 purchase of the property during their March meeting. A contract that will be set up by the land bank will require the Port Authority to pay for the demolition of the building that has fallen into disrepair.

According to Trumbull County Treasurer Sam Lamancusa, the Airport Inn closed due to septic issues. He said this eventually lead to delinquent taxes and finally foreclosure.

“It was assumed by the land bank quite some time ago,” Lamancusa said.

Lamancusa helps to head up the land bank, formally known as the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corp. The land bank acquires foreclosed properties from the Treasurer’s Office. Lamancusa said this happens more often with residential properties as opposed to commercial properties.

Once a property has been taken by the land bank, the delinquent taxes are not gathered – which causes a loss for the municipality or township in which they are located.

In less than two years, the land bank – the third of its kind formed in Ohio – has successfully “turned over” 16 residential properties. The land bank was formed in October 2011, by the Treasurer’s Office with the support of the county commissioners and prosecutor and the approval of the state attorney general.

Before the land bank was formed, Lamancusa said properties were being purchased but not utilized. The land banks procedures require buyers to enter a contract to make improvements to the property that an inspector has determined are necessary.

“When you purchase a home (from the land bank), you know what you’re buying and what you’re mandated to do,” Lamancusa said.

In the case of the Airport Inn, the mandate is demolition of the structure. Other examples of requirements might include new plumbing or electric wiring. Pricing for the properties is determined on the value after the property is fixed, as well as the cost of repairs that are required.

In the past, Lamancusa said the efforts of inspecting the properties were made by himself and others in the Treasurer’s Office. As of the beginning of this month, the Trumbull Neighborhood Project will aid with the inspection of residential properties.

“We have a shared mission to revitalize the neighborhood and to return vacant properties to use,” Matt Martin, program director for the Trumbull Neighborhood Project, said.

Martin said the land bank focuses on efforts not just to demolish unfit buildings or to renovate those in disrepair, but also focuses on side lots and other green initiatives.

“If a home is next to a vacant lot, our priority is to see if the neighbor wants it for a side yard,” Martin said.

Other options include creating vegetable and wild flower gardens or pocket parks.

“The inventory is small, but growing,” Martin said.