The City of Youngstown is one step closer to developing a safety service building that would combine the police and fire departments into a brand new state-of-the-art facility. 

The Youngstown Police Department on W. Boardman Street was built in 1930. The Youngstown Fire Department’s Station Number One on MLK Blvd. was built in 1956.
While the project has yet to be approved, Youngstown Council did move forward with a project architect during Tuesday's special council meeting.

While the cost and location have some council members unsure, it ended in a unanimous vote to get the ball rolling.

The city is putting American Rescue Plan dollars towards architectural design services for the proposed safety campus that could be built on the North Side in the coming years.

"To put us in modern-day policing, we're going to need a building better than what we have," said Councilman and former Police Chief Jimmy Hughes. "I know there's a need."

While the project has a price tag of more than $30 million, the council unanimously agreed to spend $1.5 million towards architect costs. The original language of $3 million was too high for council members including Anita Davis and Pat Kelly. That's why the language was amended, cutting architectural costs in half.

"We thought this was too high for an architectural study," Davis said. "It's important that we get community input. The public has never been asked by the administration how they felt about the proposal to move our safety service out of Downtown Youngstown. It impacts everyone's life."

Davis, a retired Youngstown police officer, said the police and fire departments were originally placed in the downtown district because it is an equal distance to homes in the city. She is concerned about response times if the safety campus is not centralized.

"At the beginning of their shifts, every police cruiser starts in Downtown Youngstown," By putting police on the North Side, that doesn't make it equally accessible to the rest of town. This could be a roadblock for me. I'm a firm no. I can't imagine that anyone could convince me nor do I think it could jumpstart housing. Ask anyone who's in the real estate business. Hearing lights and sirens all night long, no one is going to want that."

"I think we had something [estimated] like $30 million as a guess but some want to short the design," Hughes said. "If we hang on any longer with this whole project, it's not going to ever happen. This year we have to have some back and forth."

The project has yet to be officially approved by Youngstown council.

"We're taking down the police department no matter what," Davis said. "That is the footprint that we have established so look at that location and put a new smaller and modern police department right there."

"As long as they explain why it's there and what they did to rule out the other areas, that's my concern," Hughes said. "Was the East Side considered?"

Councilman Julius Oliver argues building the campus on the North Side could be a catalyst for further development. Councilwoman Amber White told 21 News she felt comfortable voting in favor of the ordinance once the $3 million price tag was cut in half.

The city has yet to hire an architectural firm but Strollo Architects conducted the original assessment on the proposal. 

The council will vote on the plans in the coming months, which gives the green light for construction to begin. Once approved, construction should take about 2 years.

The council also voted to increase funds for the 20 Federal Place Demolition and Remediation Project to $7,650,000.