The 2010 neighborhood meetings are not intended to be gripe sessions.
By ROGER G. SMITH
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- As Youngstown 2010 starts what may be its most important work, an apt adage would be "speak now or forever hold your peace."
That's the message to city residents who want a say in shaping Youngstown's future.
The first of 11 neighborhood meetings across the city scheduled through the summer is Tuesday.
The meetings are where residents can tell city planners what specific and achievable things they want done in their neighborhoods, within Youngstown 2010's vision for the future. The vision's four main elements and other information can be found at www.youngstown2010.com.
"This is the premiere opportunity to identify what are the priorities in these neighborhoods," said Jay Williams, director of the city Community Development Agency.
Part of plan
The results ultimately will become part of the Youngstown 2010 comprehensive plan for the city.
Tuesday's meeting will focus on downtown's future. The other meetings will center on residential areas.
The meetings, each from 7 to 9 p.m., are planned to accommodate about 200 people. City officials aren't sure whether to expect lower or higher turnout.
Planners will write a draft plan for each neighborhood within 60 days or so after the meeting, based on residents' oral and written comments. The drafts will be posted on the 2010 Web site and available at city hall and public places such as libraries.
The city will take comments on the drafts, make revisions and create a final neighborhood plan.
Eventually, planners want residents to sign the plans. Signatures will show the residents embrace their neighborhood plan's priorities, even if they don't necessarily agree with all the details, Williams said.
"We want to be able to say, 'You endorsed this,'" Williams said.
The power of the 2010 plan will be the citywide consensus it reflects, he said. Planners, politicians and residents can point back to the plan as the priority whenever there is conflict over what to do, Williams said.
Each neighborhood plan will be one segment of the entire 2010 plan, to be revealed on Dec. 16 at Stambaugh Auditorium. That's two years to the day more than 1,000 people came to hear and affirm the 2010 vision for the future.
One thing the neighborhood meetings won't be are gripe sessions, said Bill D'Avignon, city deputy director of planning.
There won't be enough time in the meetings to dwell on what's already happened, he said.
The past was considered in creating the vision. It's time to plot the next move in each neighborhood, he said.
"We don't want to hear about all the problems of the past," D'Avignon said. "We want to hear about the positive things we can do within the limits of what we have. What is sustainable."