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County to assuage Mercy’s road concern

WARREN — Trumbull commissioners are expecting to vote at their next meeting on a statement affirming that county Highway 1321, also known as Educational Highway, is a publicly dedicated road owned and maintained by the county.

Mercy Health is considering placing an unspecified facility on nearly 63 acres adjacent to Kent State University at Trumbull in Champion. KSU’s board of trustees approved the purchase of the property in 2020.

Commissioners met Wednesday after Mercy Health attorney Daniel G. Dutro Jr. sent a Feb. 10 letter seeking assurances that no legal concerns existed about Educational Highway being publicly owned.

“In order for Mercy Health to move forward with anything, they need the board of commissioners to issue an affirmative statement saying that Educational Highway is a publicly dedicated highway for them to continue doing business with us,” Commissioner Niki Frenchko said. “This project is well needed, and it is at a great location.”

Commissioners Frank Fuda and Mauro Cantalamessa said they asked for this opinion months ago.

“We want to make sure it is legal,” Fuda said.

County Engineer Randy Smith said his office raised questions about the area being a publicly dedicated road in 2014 and again last year.

A meeting with the developer and county officials took place three weeks ago at which the hospital system’s representatives expressed concern about the road’s legal status, Smith said.

The Trumbull County Engineer’s Office has been treating Educational Highway as a public road since the late 1970s, he noted.

“The developer wants to be clear the road is dedicated for public use,” Smith said.

Frenchko said she will put the issue on next week’s commissioners meeting agenda to pass a resolution that it is a public road.

“I just want to make sure everyone is on the same page, and it is a publicly maintained roadway,” she said.

Frenchko said once the ownership issue of the highway is journalized, Mercy Health representatives will provide a presentation of the site project plan, its purpose, and the economic impact of the jobs to be created.

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