In the wake of last week’s storm floods of Boardman-area residents’ homes, State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and other local elected officials are urging Boardman Township Trustee Tom Costello to quickly share the township’s flood-mitigation plan and to work with state officials to address local safety and health issues, much like Austintown and Poland did when faced with similar issues.
“When families and citizens experience the financial and physical devastation that flooding brings, they need serious solutions that prioritize their safety and well-being,” said Boccieri. “I stand ready to assist local officials who need to establish a comprehensive plan immediately to ensure this never happens again.”
Comprehensive flood-mitigation plans have been put in place by local leaders in Poland and Austintown Townships to effectively deal with similar issues in recent years.
“In 1994, we had multiple subdivisions that had in structure flooding effecting close to one-thousand homes,” said Mahoning County Commissioner and former Austintown Township Trustee David Ditzler. “As an Austintown Trustee we identified the areas that impacted the most homes, and the solutions to rectify the problems. We established a ten year plan to alleviate all the flooding in Austintown. We proceeded to apply for all grants available to townships, and over the next ten years we secured almost six million dollars for flood alleviating projects. This plan eliminated the flooding in the areas that impacted the most homes.”
The Mahoning Valley Delegation has partnered with local communities in the past to draw down on state resources to address water issues. When asked by trustees from Austintown and Poland to address flooding off the turnpike in Austintown to storm drain issues in Poland, the local delegation assisted with hydrology studies, analysis by Department of Natural Resources, Federal Army Corp of Engineers studies and even involved the students at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center (MCCTC), who flew drones to map township flood plains.
“As our local media has reported extensively, in recent years and just as recently as two weeks ago, Governor Kasich refuses to undo the painful Republican budget cuts of two-billion dollars to our communities over the last seven years,” Boccieri added. “The Governor has shunned both Democrat and Republican efforts to redirect more funding to our communities to deal with issues like infrastructure, public health, and public safety with veto threats. The sad reality is that money will stay in the Rainy Day fund until he leaves office this December.”
Valley lawmakers have fought to pass bills, like House Bill 499 and House Joint Resolution 14, legislation that would release more funding for local infrastructure projects and issue public bonds to pay for sewer and water upgrades, respectively.
Boccieri noted that Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are available and Soil and Water Conservation Districts are organized to help Boardman Township Trustee Tom Costello and his team solidify a strong 10-year plan.
“That approach was successful in Austintown, and it can be successful in Boardman too,” said Boccieri.
In the past, the Valley Delegation supported the formation of the ABC Water and Stormwater District as a way to better leverage funds to address stormwater issues across Austintown, Boardman and Canfield Townships.
“When we were faced with our own crisis, we asked State Rep. John Boccieri and Sen. Joe Schiavoni to help with flooding issues in Poland and they responded,” Poland Township Trustee Eric Ungaro said. “They came to public meetings, toured flooded areas and helped identify resources.”
In other matters involving strengthening the state and local partnership, Boardman Township Trustees Brad Calhoun and Larry Moliterno said Boccieri’s partnership on local issues has been important in the past.
“When public safety was in jeopardy after ten years of inaction on dangerous railroad crossings and tracks, John answered our calls for help and connected us with the Ohio Rail Development Commission to secure funding that we could use locally to make needed repairs to critical infrastructure. His office’s open door policy has made it easier for us to do our jobs effectively at the local level, and we hope to engage him again with a real plan to put our residents’ concerns first.”