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Fracking to fight urban blight
Leasing public land for gas and oil drilling is controversial, but the city of Youngstown may be going foward with a plan to do just that
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


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Tim Rudell
 
Square in downtown Youngstown seen from the south
Courtesy of T. Rudell
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Youngstown made national news when it pushed back against urban blight by tearing down abandoned buildings and paring down the size of the city.  It may make headlines again by leasing city land for fracking and using the proceeds to pay for more demolition.    WKSU’s Tim Rudell Reports

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First Ward Youngstown City Council Member Annie Gillam

Youngstown City Council decides this week if the Mayor can negotiate gas and oil leases for city property.  First Ward council member Annie Gillam says money from the leases would augment State and Federal funds for blight removal.  “We’re working with about two million dollars right now…which will take down about three to four hundred houses.  But it’s not enough:  we have at least a thousand that we could take down right away.”

Gillam says the city has four thousand acres of land and is looking at leasing a tenth of that; which would raise two-to-three million dollars. “People are getting around $5-thousand an acre; but it could be more.  I understand some Utica shale deposits are getting close to eight thousand.”

Public comment during the first two readings of the measure that would authorize lease negotiations was dominated by fracking opponents, but Gillam and others on city council say the measure is likely to pass

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