YOUNGSTOWN Revitalizing river corridor

The master plan will provide a guide for future development, says a corridor committee member.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Several options of a master plan to help revitalize the so-called Mahoning River Corridor of Opportunity will be presented tonight at Youngstown State University.
The presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Kilcawley Center's Pugsley/Coffelt Room and is open to the public.
The 1,470-acre site, which follows the Mahoning River from Youngstown through Campbell and Struthers, was once home to businesses that employed up to 20,000 people. Businesses there now employ about 2,000 people.
But planners believe there's hope for the corridor, which is considered a brownfield, or previously developed land that may have some environmental contamination impeding new development.
MRCO representatives will present various plans that focus on industrial development, retail opportunities and recreational use. A preferred plan also will be presented and recommendations will be accepted.
"We need some sort of a guide for future development," said MRCO member William DeCicco.
Team effort: DeCicco also serves as executive director of the CASTLO Community Improvement Corp., an industrial park located in Struthers that revamped buildings to house new businesses. CASTLO is an acronym for the cities of Campbell and Struthers, and the village of Lowellville.
He said CASTLO is a smaller example of what could be done within the corridor. "It's a team approach," said DeCicco.
In 2000, Youngstown, Campbell, Struthers, Mahoning County and the MRCO raised about $189,000 to hire the Cleveland-based URS Corp. to develop a master plan.
Daniel Mamula, MRCO chairman and Struthers mayor, said a team effort is probably the best way to revitalize the corridor.
"I just never felt that we individually had the resources to do it alone," Mamula said. "The whole thing is bigger than any one of us."
MRCO officials believe it's important to complete a master plan soon to bring some much-needed funds to the project.
Funding: About $200 million was set aside recently by the Clean Ohio Fund to aid brownfield improvement projects.
Mamula said the money will probably be allotted in $50 million increments over four years.
It's also believed that a successful corridor revitalization could aid the suburbs.
"If you develop brownfield property, that lessens the demand on urban sprawl," said DeCicco.
He said a final draft of the master plan should be available in a month or two.

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