Officials offer views for solving problems
Cleaning corridors and regulating construction were two issues discussed.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Officials from Youngstown, Mahoning County, Boardman, Austintown and Poland agree that to address common problems, they may have to start small.
Jay Williams, Youngstown mayor-elect, said that one of the items in Youngstown 2010, a comprehensive land-use plan for the city's future, was the need for regionalization.
"We exist as a region whether we want to believe it or not," Williams said Monday at a meeting of various public officials that was organized by Boardman Trustee Kathy Miller.
They may need to start with simple things or what Williams termed "low-hanging fruit."
He pointed to the corridors that connect communities. Aside from being thoroughfares traveled daily by commuters, they're also opportunities for economic development.
Monday's meeting didn't produce clear-cut answers, but Miller, as well as others who participated, hopes the meetings become regular gatherings. Miller said she plans to be persistent with her colleagues in other communities to schedule them.
The initial session was essentially a brain-storming one.
Miller agreed that cleaning up the corridors may be an easy first step.
Bill Barlow, a planner with Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, said the agency is seeking state money to address safety concerns along the Mahoning Avenue corridor that stretches between Youngstown and Austintown. Studies have shown a high number of crashes in that area.
Another item that Eastgate hopes to accomplish throughout the area is signs above intersections enabling motorists to identify locations of cross streets, Barlow said.
Marilyn Kenner, chief deputy at the Mahoning County Engineer's office, also pointed to an effort to regulate how close construction may occur to a stream or other body of water.
Austintown and Boardman expect to take ordinances establishing those regulations before the Mahoning County Planning Commission early next year, and the county hopes that other communities follow suit.
Although the county doesn't have authority over the city, Kenner said they'd like the city to participate to establish consistency countywide.
"We'd like to work with you on this," she said.
Youngstown Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, said he also favors a regional approach for the area.
"We need to start moving toward areas where we can do things collaboratively," Hudson said.
He said he supports the idea of joint fire, police and safety districts to save money. That could free up funds to do things like fight crime, he said.
Robyn Gallitto, a Boardman trustee-elect, said she heard from citizens while campaigning that they want to see regionalization.
"The boundaries that are on maps are just on maps," she said. "People are fluid, water is fluid and crime is fluid."