REDEVELOPMENT Sprawl-prevention office opens its doors

The local office will focus on four major items.
YOUNGSTOWN -- An organization looking to stop urban sprawl in Ohio is opening a part-time local office in Youngstown.
Greater Ohio is a nonprofit organization looking to grow the state's economy and improve its quality of life through proper land use such as promoting redevelopment of existing communities, strengthening regional cooperation and protecting the state's natural resources.
The organization's Mahoning Valley headquarters, to be opened initially on a part-time basis, will be at the Common Wealth Inc. building on Elm Street.
Jim Converse, who works for Common Wealth, is serving as Greater Ohio's Mahoning Valley director. Common Wealth is a nonprofit community development agency focused on building affordable housing.
Key goals
The local Greater Ohio office will focus on four major items, Converse said:
UHelping Columbiana County develop a comprehensive land use plan.
UTrying to obtain state and federal funds to redevelop urban areas in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
USupporting legislation to provide more state funds and tax credits to rehabilitate and preserve historic buildings.
USupporting the Ohio rail development plan to bring high-speed passenger trains to the state.
Converse and David Beach, president of Greater Ohio, will formally announce on Monday the opening of the Mahoning Valley regional office.
"We want smart growth by rebuilding cities and saving farm land and open space," Converse said.
Instead of spending tax dollars on building new roads and infrastructure in outlying areas, the state and communities should first look at rehabilitating property in urban areas, he said.
Greater Ohio has offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

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