Officials will apply for a grant to improve the downtown in October.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN, Jr.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
HUBBARD -- Plans to revitalize the city have been unveiled, and city and county officials hope a $400,000 grant from the state will set the plans in motion.
The Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio, an extension of the College of Architecture at Kent State University, prepared the revitalization study. The plans were presented to residents and city leaders Monday.
Paul Vernon, project manager, Urban Design Center, said the city should be broken into four key sections for the purposes of revitalization:
UThe Western Gateway, the section of Youngstown-Hubbard Road entering town.
UThe Liberty Street link, the section between the Western Gateway and downtown.
UThe Historic Center or downtown.
UThe North Main Street Link or area extending beyond downtown.
Vernon said property owners in the Youngstown-Hubbard Road entrance to the city must focus on improving the aesthetic look of that area as it is an entrance to the community. He said widespread landscaping and parking lot improvements would be beneficial.
The area designated the Liberty Street Link, Vernon said, should be enhanced with buildings that bring out its residential appeal. He said buildings, regardless of use, should appear residential in this section.
Downtown property owners should attempt to increase the curb appeal of buildings in the downtown area, Vernon said. Improvements such as new awnings, paint and landscaping should do the trick, he added.
The North Main Street Link, Vernon said, should be beautified with landscaping and other aesthetic enhancements unique to that section of the city.
Vernon also said the city has an abundance of connecting green space that could be put to good use as recreational or natural scenic areas.
City and county officials are hoping to focus on the downtown section of North Main Street from the center of town to the railroad tracks and a small section of East Liberty Street first. The county is seeking a $400,000 grant to help with the costs.
Alan Knapp, of the Trumbull County planning commission, said the grant from the state is designated for aesthetic improvements to downtown buildings and will be distributed to business owners in the targeted area. Officials want the money to be used mostly for outside curb-appeal improvements.
Knapp said the county must show that at least 20 percent of the 80 businesses in that area will participate in the renovation program in order to get the grant. The county sent out surveys to business owners and 23 expressed interest, Knapp said. About seven business owners have submitted renovation plans, he said.
Business owners' shares
The city has determined that each business owner who applies for a piece of the grant money can receive up to $20,000 or 50 percent of their total renovation cost. To be eligible, owners must show that all work will meet city codes and must supply a written estimate from a third party.
Knapp said the county will apply for the grant in early October. He said the grant is awarded late this year or early next year, but there is no guarantee that it will be granted.
"This is one of the most competitive grant programs in the state," he said. "There are 10 communities applying and six grants to be awarded so we have better than a 50/50 chance. I am feeling confident that we will get it."
Should the county not be awarded the grant, Knapp said a second attempt would be made next year.