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Property manager clears air with city council

New Castle News, Pa. — Nancy Lowry New Castle News, Pa.

Nov. 09--A property manager whose dealings have been questioned before New Castle city council in recent months presented his side of the story on Wednesday night.

Ray Ornelas of Butler told city council he has been buying, renting, flipping and managing properties in New Castle for the past 10 years.

"I am aware that my name has been slandered here," he said. "I apologize for not coming sooner."

He said he has 55 properties within city limits and presented council members and Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo with a booklet containing photos of his properties. Only one, he said, -- on Oak Street -- needs work. "All the others are nice, well-cared for. If I hear from code enforcement I react and take care of it right away.

"I have helped to bring foreign investors into the area. I want to raise (property) values. That will help me and the city."

He added that he recently hired Anthony Mazzant to help him in his work to manage properties

Councilman Anthony Adamo commended Ornelas on the appearance of the properties shown to council. "I don't know where this slander is coming from," Adamo added. "I have not heard it."

Adamo said council has begun cracking down on landlords who have not been good landlords.

"But this is the first time I've heard your name."

Councilmen Richard Beshero and Paul Stefano also welcomed Ornelas.

"Thanks for coming to tell your side of the story," Beshero said, adding, "Fifty-five is a lot of properties. I'm glad you got help."

He said he has no patience with landlords who do just enough to get passed by code.

"We've been harsh on bad landlords," agreed Stefano. "We're looking for good landlords."

Since last May, Hugh Coryea of West Moody Avenue has raised concerns before council on Ornelas' practices, complaining about the condition of his properties and the poor quality of renters who fill the properties.

Council also:

--Adopted an ordinance to increase the cost of golf cart rentals and playing a round of golf at Sylvan Heights, the city's municipal golf course. New prices will raise "specials" rates by $2 and $3. Membership rates will remain the same.

--Approved a vehicle use policy presented at the workshop session on Monday. Assistant solicitor Jonathan Miller, at that time, said the city has never had a comprehensive policy on personal use of vehicles "It's a good thing to have in place," he said, adding that it has been requested by the city's insurance carrier.

--Approved a revised Community Block Grant program contract to free up $1,467.50, unused to complete the Lutton Street storm water replacement project, to pay for handicapped curb ramps

--Approved vacating a portion of Maple Avenue in the area of 411 Eighth Street in Mahoningtown, and vacating a portion of Maple Avenue in the area of 504 Ninth Street, in Mahoningtown.

--Introduced an ordinance to create a handicap parking only space at 923 Marshall Ave. for William Powell.

Prior to the meeting council conducted a public hearing on a request to extend a C-1 commercial zone to include property at 1301 N. Croton Ave. The property owner, Jason P. Doran, through his representative Diane Figurelli, said the lot, in an R-1 residential zone, "is just inches" from the commercial zone. The property, she said, contains a 25-foot by 50-foot building that has 15 parking spaces around it and would be attractive to a small business. Council is expected to vote on the request later this month.

nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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