The national recognition is getting the attention of developers, a city official says.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The American Planning Association selected the Youngstown 2010 citywide plan as the winner of its 2007 National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach.
The award is the latest national honor and recognition received by Youngstown, with most of the accolades for its 2010 plan. The plan took three years to develop and is a detailed vision focused on revitalizing Youngstown, said Anthony Kobak, the city's chief planner.
"This [award] gets the attention of developers and others that could translate into more development and attract more businesses and jobs to the city," Kobak said.
The plan as well as other aspects of the city have garnered a lot of attention in recent weeks. An article in The New York Times Magazine praised the 2010 plan as one of the 74 best ideas in a variety of topics.
"All our work is culminating in a lot of positive national attention for the city," said Mayor Jay Williams, who was heavily involved in the 2010 plan when he served as the city's Community Development Agency director before opting to run for mayor.
The 2010 plan included a great deal of community involvement with 5,000 people participating in the process as well as a marketing and public education campaign, Kobak said.
The Youngstown plan beat out 12 other applicants in APA's public outreach category, said Denny Johnson, an association spokesman.
"The breadth of what they did, leaving no stone unturned," is what led to the plan's receiving the honor, he said.
The city held 11 neighborhood meetings in 2004 to help shape the plan.
"It's exciting to see that level of participation," Johnson said.
The city will be honored at the APA's National Planning Conference on April 17, 2007, in Philadelphia.
"This is phenomenal," Kobak said. "The award process is highly competitive."
The city applied for the award the past two years without success.
"Our application has grown and strengthened every year," Kobak said. "When we applied [the first two times], the planning process was still ongoing. Maybe it was premature, but we were excited about the process."
The persistence paid off with a win this year, he said.
The 2010 plan details how Youngstown can be viable in the future although its population has significantly decreased over the years. The city is demolishing dilapidated and vacant buildings, and turning vacant lots into parks.
The 2010 plan was also the subject of articles in Metropolis and Governing magazines and was featured as a case study in a book on public designing and at a regional governing conference. The plan won the Outstanding Community Planning honor from the Ohio chapter of the APA in 2005.
Old House Journal recently listed the Crandall Park district on the city's North Side as the nation's most affordable historic district. Also, Entrepreneur magazine listed the Youngstown-Warren areas as the 29th best midsize city for entrepreneurs.