BY Jordan Cohen
Warren has had a revitalization plan since 2009, but more of the community must get involved if it’s to have any impact.
“You can have all the plans you want, but unless you accomplish something in the short and long term, nothing will happen,” warned Robert Faulkner, a Warren Board of Education member.
Other speakers echoed Faulkner’s warning Saturday during the “Mayor’s Strategic Plan City-Wide Summit” at Packard Music Hall. The summit attracted 45 people, most of them members of Warren’s neighborhood watch and revitalization groups. Councilman-at large Bob Dean, chairman of the strategic planning committee, said he was not disappointed with the turnout.
“We’ve got these neighborhood people talking together and sharing ideas, and now we’re putting the word out to the community,” Dean said. “That’s what this summit is all about.”
Charlene Kerr, principal owner of Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green, which drafted the strategic plan at a cost of $180,000, said many residents don’t realize the potential their city has.
“Warren is a much safer and nicer place than its image to the general public appears,” Kerr said. “It has a lot of assetsSLps but everybody has to help out.”
That apparently isn’t happening, according to Bob Groner of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, whose members attended wearing their distinctive green T-shirts.
“We can’t get the people involved,” Groner said. “All they want to do is complain.”
The neighborhood groups were situated at tables on the Packard stage to discuss goals, accomplishments, needs and how to work with their counterparts from the other neighborhoods. One subject drawing interest was Warren’s land bank, which restores and sells abandoned and vacant property. Group members said there is no shortage of properties in the city requiring restoration.
“The land bank will enable us to move more quickly on a lot of properties and create a homestead environment,” said Doug Franklin, the city’s safety-service director who is running for mayor this year.
The plan contains a number of recommendations such as allowing abandoned neighborhoods to “go green” and be converted to parks, and development of pedestrian connectors to allow residents to walk safely throughout the city.
Janet Hazlett of the Northeast Neighborhood Association suggested establishing a medical corridor with Trumbull Memorial Hospital, the city’s largest employer, as its hub. Other proposals included attracting more businesses and entertainment for the city’s downtown area in light of the success of last summer’s concert series at the amphitheatre and developing a house-swapping incentive that would encourage movement into available and improved homes in city neighborhoods, a program that is being tried in Detroit. There also were calls for remembering the basics of a revitalized neighborhood.
“If people would just take care of the street in front of them, this city could be 90 percent cleaner,” said Bob Weitzel, Northwest Association president.
Dean said the strategic planning committee will have its next public summit in October.