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Plans are in the works to breathe new life into the Youngstown Developmental Center in Mineral Ridge. A provision in the state budget bill that passed the Senate Wednesday, would transfer the residential facility from the state to the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
All of the residents have moved out of the state operated Youngstown Developmental Center before its scheduled closure at the end of the month. When the closing was announced in 2015, the YDC employed a staff of 272 employees and assisted 86 residents.
Now a proposal is making its way through the Ohio legislature in the budget bill to transfer the more than 30 acre site for those with disabilities to the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
"I can't stress enough we want to have a population that will blend with the neighborhood," explained Duane Piccirilli, the executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
He added that "There wouldn't be any detox, there wouldn't be any at risk populations, there wouldn't be anything that would cause any situation."
Piccirilli said ideas right now include housing people in later levels of recovery, adults with developmental disabilities, adults with autism, and the elderly who receive mental health services.
Other proposals include space for nonprofits and government agencies like the Area Agency on Aging and social enterprises for lawn service and cooking.
"There's lawn care so maybe we could do some programming where maybe some adults could do some of the lawn care. The other thing that we're sort of interested in is there's a full industrial kitchen there. We found out that a lot of the home delivered meals to the elderly are frozen. So we're thinking maybe eventually down the road we could start a social enterprise where we could have people with disabilities prepare the meals so there could be hot meals delivered to the elderly."
He added that the facility could also potentially provide meals to Head Start because the agency currently gets meals from Cleveland.
They are also exploring the idea of some activities for senior citizens there and services for veterans.
Piccirilli said that they're looking into possibly having Meridian Health Care be the property manager.
"We're hoping all the tenants would pay rent. It would almost be like a condo association-- that's what we're hoping-- so there wouldn't be any tax dollars in there it would all be dollars from the organizations," Piccirilli stated.
At this point, the legislation still has to be approved by the conference committee and Governor John Kasich but State Senator Joe Schiavoni is optimistic that it will pass.
We should know the state's decision soon because the budget bill needs to pass before July 1.
In the meantime, Piccirilli wants to hear from the community about what they want to have at this site. He is planning a community meeting to gather input.
This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared on WFMJ. The original story can be found at: http://www.wfmj.com/story/35722061/proposal-for-the-future-of-the-youngstown-developmental-center
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