Shrinking city needs new policies that fit

YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown is like the big house no longer needed now that the kids are all out on their own.
The city is built for a population of twice its present-day 82,000 residents.
Selling the home where all the family memories were made is sad. It makes sense for the parents left behind, however.
But in Youngstown, leaders haven't made the hard choice to downsize. Instead, nostalgia reigns, said Jay Williams, director of the city Community Development Agency.
"We're always looking in the rearview mirror," he said. "It's a great view, but now ..."
Accepting that Youngstown must be smaller is among the four main categories in the vision for the city's future, termed Youngstown 2010.
Anthony Kobak, the city's chief planner, and others hope the comprehensive city plan that grows from Youngstown 2010 will draw out leaders who now are sitting on the sidelines. Leaders who truly want to make a difference can use the plan -- being assembled through public input -- as their platform, Kobak said.
Leaders first want to measure the issues surrounding downsizing, said Bill D'Avignon, city deputy director of planning. Once those assessments are done, leaders will have a better base for making the decisions, he said.
A specific plan to follow should lessen political heat, D'Avignon said, making it easier for elected officials to make tough but necessary decisions.

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