YOUNGSTOWN City revives pride award

Honored residents will get a yard sign and a plaque for their well-kept homes.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Image is a topic that the Youngstown Area Council has talked about often.
Today, the offshoot of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber reaches into the past to do something about it.
The group is reviving the Neighborhood Pride Award program, which will recognize city residents who are taking extra steps to keep their homes looking good.
"It's about time to show there are people taking care of their properties," said Mike Fagan, an area council member and an architect with Olsavsky-Jaminet Architects.
The impetus: Negative images of the city affect decisions that businesses make, Fagan said. The group has talked for months about ways to combat that, he said.
Then the area council saw The Vindicator's three-day series last month titled Beyond the Blight. The series outlined reader views on eyesores across the community and explored ways to reverse the decline.
"It started waking some people up," Fagan said.
After that, the group decided to do something to counter what he called "bad press."
Neighborhood pride awards are given out in Warren and were given out in Youngstown until the effort faded some years ago.
Nominations: City housing inspectors will nominate properties where the homes or landscaping stand out from the rest.
Inspectors know the neighborhoods better than just about anybody, said Bill D'Avignon, city deputy director of planning.
"It will give them a break from the monotony, too, of just looking for the bad," he said. "It's a good idea. When it came up again, I volunteered to help."
The planning department will pass nominations to the area council, which will pick the winners. Sometime during the year a winner will come from each of the seven city wards.
Honored residents will get a yard sign for the month noting the achievement and a plaque to mark the milestone. The area council is looking for a sponsor to cover the costs.
The area council also is talking with a local television news station about regular coverage of the winners.
A pride award program that centers on businesses is under discussion, but the effort will start with residential homes, Fagan said.

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