Building housing businesses showing signs of collapse

A village councilman is concerned a building that houses two downtown businesses could collapse unless something is done to shore up the structure.

Joe Morenz was talking about the rental property at the corner of South Market Street and South Park Avenue that is home to Sweet Jane’s restaurant and a beauty salon. He recently discovered the lower corner of the building facing South Market Street, where the restaurant is located, has a hole in it the size of his open hand or larger.

“It’s going to fall down like the McCook House did unless we do something,” Morenz told his colleagues during last week’s council meeting. Years ago, the historic McCook House restaurant located on North Market Street fell apart brick by brick until an entire section collapsed, and then the building was razed.

Zoning Secretary Alisa Gostey said the zoning inspector is aware of the problem and intends investigate, and Village Solicitor Virginia Barborak said she will send a letter to the landlord, Gary Hamilton, who lives in Trumbull County.

Barborak, whose private law practice is located in the building next door, said she has already complained to Hamilton about the building’s condition.

Morenz said he just wants the building repaired so it can continue housing the two businesses. “It’s getting to be a danger for people walking down the street. Plus, we have two businesses we want to stay,” he said.

“I’m compassionate to that, but I don’t want the building to fall into the street,” said Council President Roger Gallo.

In other action, council was addressed by Sean Logan, a consultant representing the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, or NOPEC, which has a six-year deal with NextEra Energy Services Ohio as its exclusive natural gas supplier.

NextEra intends to get most of its gas from companies drilling in Ohio, and NOPEC expects that it will be significantly cheaper than gas obtained from outside the state. Logan said NOPEC is offering to pass those savings onto citizens whose communities agree to participate in a program that would lock them in at a fixed rate.

He said it would work similar to the electric aggregation program communities participated in several years ago. Voters would be asked to approve a ballot issue giving their town council or township trustees permission to negotiate a two-year contract with NOPEC. Once that occurs, households would automatically be enrolled in the gas discount program unless they choose to opt out. Households which join can also opt out at any time without having to pay any fee.

Logan said they will not know the price until next year, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the deal with NOPEC could save households and businesses $100 a year.

Mayor Dan Bing will meet with Logan to learn more about the program before council decides at its July meeting whether to place the issue on the Nov. 4 ballot. The filing deadline to do so is Aug. 6.

Logan said Butler, Center, Hanover and Unity townships have already agreed to place issues on the ballot.

Logan is a former state representative, Columbiana County commissioner and served as director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources during the administration of former Gov. Ted Strickland.