Creation of a 'vision plan' began with assessing the community's strengths and needs.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- After helping to preside over one of Canfield's largest public meetings in recent years, Bill Kay was thinking big.
Kay said he hopes even more residents will turn out tonight for the second public meeting to collect comments for a "vision plan" for Canfield's future. About 250 residents packed McMahon Hall at the Mill Creek MetroParks Experimental Farm on Monday night for the first meeting.
"We're going to invite them to come back and if they can, bring a friend," said Kay, the chairman of the plan's steering committee. Tonight's meeting will be at 7 at the farm on state Route 46.
During Monday's session a group of students and planners from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., asked residents to describe Canfield's assets and problems, as well as the top issues they'd like to see addressed in the community. The Ball State group was hired by the nonprofit Canfield Foundation to direct the effort to create the plan.
Dr. James Segedy, who heads the Ball State group, began the meeting by telling the crowd, "I'm not going to talk tonight, you're talking to us."
The residents responded by telling the planning group that Canfield's assets included the school district, the Green, the community's history, Canfield Fairgrounds, the Fourth of July and First Night events, and the small-town atmosphere. Problems included flooding, a lack of parks, the small size of the Canfield library and post office, the increased development along U.S. 224, and that young people don't return to the community after they graduate from high school.
A lack of storm sewers was the top issue that most residents said they wanted to see addressed.
Darlene Morris, who co-owns Caffe Dars on Lisbon Street with her husband, John, said she'd like to see a community center built, "to keep everyone around here, rather than going to other communities ... I think it needs to be an attraction."
Several other residents echoed her comments.
"Probably our biggest need is a community center," said Adeer Drive resident Lucile Bartelmay, a former school board member. Bartelmay said she believed a community center could help bring together Canfield residents of different ages and backgrounds.
John Morris said he came to the meeting in part to hear what other residents had to say.
"I wanted to take a look at how the community feels about Canfield itself, to see where their future lies," he said. He said he believed the community needs to work harder to support local businesses in the future.
Brad Kincade of Willow Bend added that in the future, he wants local officials to do more to listen to the opinions of residents. Kincade said he came to the meeting because he believes "you don't really have a right to say anything unless you participate."
Several other residents, including Mike Landers, a former Youngstown police officer, expressed concern about development in the community.
"I think it's important to the community that we maintain the integrity of a bedroom community," Landers said.
Segedy has said much of the format of the final plan will be determined by the residents' comments. The Canfield Foundation is paying for the $25,000 planning effort using a $10,000 donation from the family foundation of organization president Nils Johnson, as well as other donations and $5,000 from city council. Johnson also has asked township trustees for $5,000 to help pay for the plan.
He has stressed that the foundation hopes to use the plan to direct growth in both the township and city. Canfield Township is expected to be the top community in Mahoning and Trumbull counties for single-family housing construction this year.
Kay said he hopes Segedy's group will have the comments of local residents compiled for the steering committee between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1.