The future of the former Youth Development Center buildings and property could be in the hands of local government agencies.
The Lawrence County commissioners have been asked to consider approving an intergovernmental cooperation agreement among the Shenango Township supervisors, the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation, the Lawrence County Redevelopment Authority and the county for the purpose of acquiring and redeveloping the former Youth Development Center property in Shenango Township.
Amy McKinney, county planning and economic development director, and county administrator James Gagliano explained to the commissioners at their Tuesday meeting that the intent of the agreement is to submit a proposal to acquire the 150-acre Youth Development Center property, which is owned by the state.
The state has taken applications for bids to sell the property on three occasions, and is seeking bids again, they said. McKinney noted this will be the fourth time.
Gagliano said that initially it was asking about $2 million for the property but the asking price has been reduced since then. He said it is asking about $300,000. He said that no offers had been submitted to the state in any of the previous three rounds of bidding.
The agencies involved are planning to submit a proposal for the use of the property and an offer with a price tag attached.
"We've been talking with people about what to propose for it, and the Shenango supervisors have been part of the discussion," McKinney said.
Gagliano added that "the group has been in talks with a variety of private sector developers to make this part of a public/priavate partnership to move forward."
He would not disclose the exact ideas the group is considering.
"I think the site needs to be used," Commissioner Bob Del Signore said, noting that the 150 acres could be used for other purposes. He agreed that the time is not right to discuss what proposed use is being considered.
The commissioners said they plan to vote on the agreement at their meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The Youth Development Center, a campus for felonious youths, closed its doors four years ago and the land and buildings have sat vacant since then. Locally, it may be best remembered for its Frew Mill High School basketball that capped an improbable 1987-88 season with a WPIAL championship, making it the only juvenile correctional facility ever to do so.
The Shenango Township supervisors are still considering the proposed agreement and have not yet committed, township supervisor Albert Burick said in a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon.
"The idea is to get the property back on the tax rolls at some point and get it redeveloped," he said. "The township hasn't taken a stance on whether to be involved yet, but we're entertaining the idea."
The Shenango Township supervisors had said publicly last year that they have been working to attract the federal Department of Administrative Services agency located at Iron Mountain in Boyers, Butler County. The agency is looking for a place to move its facility, and the former YDC property is one of many ideas being discussed, Burick said.
However, the agency won't have an answer about where it intends to relocate until possibly later this summer, he said. "It all depends upon the federal budget."
The Department of Administrative Services announced in October it plans to move its facility and embark on a multimillion dollar development for a new site.
The Shenango supervisors had announced at recent meetings they would like the former Youth Development Corporation property on Frew Mill Road or on an undeveloped site on Route 422 to be considered.