New Waterford buys property to raze drug house

NEW WATERFORD – Council approved the purchase of a four-tenths acre parcel of property on Front Street during a special meeting on Tuesday.

The property sits behind a vacant house on the lot that the county and village want to take down and has a small building on it that is used by a squatter.

By an emergency resolution, the village authorized the purchase which Mayor Shane Patrone said would cost $2,000 as is, but will be closer to $4,000 with closing costs included.

Patrone said the vacant house has attracted drug activity and the building behind it, owned by William and Nancy Benson, will probably need a property survey.

Solicitor Walter Newton explained the village would cover the closing costs and it was “also buying it subject to a person on the property.” He said the village would incur the eviction cost.

Councilwoman Doris Ogle asked if the person living there was aware of what was happening and Patrone said, “I think he knows this is coming” and Administrator Fred Fink said he might have a notion, but when he finds out said he “won’t be happy.”

Regarding the vacant house, Patrone said it was a drug house. “It needs to go away … it will eliminate problems. Our idea is to get rid of all the issues with the property.”

Council voted 5-0 with Councilman Tom Cresanto an excused absence, to proceed with the purchase.

In other business, during a finance committee meeting, Patrone said Columbiana County Commissioner Tim Weigle asked if the village had any objections to being included in the East Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce once it changes its name (including the word “area”).

Patrone put the question out to see if council had any objections and Ogle said more cooperation between areas is helpful.

The committee also discussed the contract from Quicksall Engineering for a facilities plan that Newton had in revised form.

The plan will result from studying the village’s potable water distribution system and make recommendations regarding how to upgrade it.

Newton noted they took a number of items out of the contract and said it was simpler but while it addressed some of the former concerns, “we may have to fine tune it.”

Newton said he was still concerned about what the company termed “additional services.”

Newton said that needed clarification along with what efforts the company said it would make to help obtain funding for execution of the plan.

Ogle noted the $25,000 charge was opened ended and Newton said the company was probably trying to cover itself if the scope of the project changed.

Overall, he said, “I think it’s much closer to what you guys are looking for here” and Councilman Gary DeMarchis said once a few of those issues were cleaned up council might act.

Newton said, “We can make a few (more) changes).”

Patrone said they were looking at grant application deadlines and wanted to get in on March of 2015 to “optimize any opportunities to go for grants.”

The committee agreed to have Newton contact the company regarding the remaining issues. Also, Fiscal Officer Dave Slagle said the state auditor’s report for the village was issued and Patrone said the village did well in it.