MAHONING COUNTY Township, city plan in works

A series of public meetings will take place to get ideas for the future.
CANFIELD -- A group of residents and officials from the city and township is taking the first step toward creating a plan for the community.
"What we need now is to move forward as a greater community," said Nils Johnson, president of the nonprofit Canfield Foundation. "We're determined to think broadly about Canfield's future."
The foundation is working to raise $25,000 for a "vision plan" for the city and township. Johnson said the plan will be designed to help the community control and direct its future.
When complete, the Canfield plan is expected to be much like the 150-page 20/20 Austintown plan, which lists projects residents can undertake to improve that township.
Johnson said his family's foundation will donate $10,000 to help pay for the creation of the Canfield plan, and Canfield City Council has agreed to pay an additional $5,000.
On Monday, Johnson asked Canfield Township trustees to contribute $5,000 for the plan.
Trustees asked Township Clerk Carmen Heasley to look for the money in the township budget.
"In 25 years, I would bet a lot of money that we would have 40,000 or 50,000 people in our greater community -- do we want to get some oars in the water so we can shape and direct that growth?" Johnson asked the trustees.
Construction permits on rise
The 2000 census shows that the city and township had a combined population of about 14,600. Township Zoning Inspector Dave Morrison noted that the township has already issued 72 permits for single-family homes this year, which is more than it issued in all of 2003, when 64 such permits were issued.
Johnson stressed that creation of the plan will be a "grass-roots effort" that is based on comments and suggestions from residents, not just public officials. The foundation is hoping to hold a series of public meetings in September to collect comments from residents, he said.
The plan could be complete late this year, he said.
Among the issues that the foundation thinks could be discussed are the loss of young people who move away from Canfield after they graduate from high school and the uncertain financial future of the Canfield schools, Johnson said.
He said the foundation also thinks residents could discuss the construction of a new post office, a new library, or a community center, Johnson said.
"We're going to grow, there's no question about it. We'll certainly have enough residents to support a community center," Trustee Bill Reese said.
Planners from Ball State
Johnson also noted that the Canfield Foundation has collected enough money to sign a contract with a group of students and planners from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., who will direct the effort to create the plan. The Ball State group, led by Dr. James Segedy, also directed the 20/20 Austintown effort.
The Canfield Foundation decided to work toward creating the plan for the community's future last year after reading articles about 20/20 Austintown in The Vindicator, Johnson said.
Members of the Canfield Foundation's board include Reese, Mayor Lee Frey, City Manager Charles Tieche, schools Superintendent Dante Zambrini and several local residents, Johnson said.
In other action, trustees voted to have Heasley talk to local banks about borrowing $750,000 to buy 70 acres for the township's first park. The land is on Herbert Road just west of Old North Church and adjacent to the Mill Creek MetroParks bikeway, trustees said.
Reese noted that the township has been considering buying land for a park for the past two years. Trustee Paul Moracco called the Herbert Road property "beautiful land."

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