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Mayor Sammarone: Some festivals should consider using Covelli

Published: Sat, August 10, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By David Skolnick



With summer festivals that close downtown streets to vehicular and even pedestrian traffic for days, along with an increase in the number of people living in that area, Mayor Charles Sammarone is proposing some events consider relocating next year to the nearby Covelli Centre.

The city is receiving complaints from some downtown residents about festivals that block access to their apartments and vehicles and are too noisy, the mayor said.

Some downtown business owners have complained that event organizers put up gates in front of their buildings — sometimes two days before a festival starts — making it difficult for customers and clients to park nearby and even walk to the businesses, Sammarone added.

“With people living downtown, it’s their neighborhood, and we don’t want it to be noisy or difficult for them to leave their homes,” he said.

And blocking main downtown streets for days for several weekends during the summer can be frustrating, Sammarone said.

“I get hot myself trying to get around downtown,” he said.

There are, however, other downtown businesses, particularly restaurants and bars, that like the festivals near their locations as it increases traffic and profits.

The mayor suggests some of the larger downtown events — such as the Youngstown Jazz Fest and the Greater Youngstown Italian Festival — consider moving next summer to the parking area of the city-owned Covelli Centre on Front Street.

The center typically has a couple of outdoor events in the lot every summer, which is traditionally the slowest time of the year for the indoor facility. The annual Panerathon event will be Aug. 25.

The center’s parking area has plenty of room for the festivals and can be easily gated, Sammarone said.

The obstacle to having events at the center in the past was Centerplate served as the center’s food-and-beverage vendor and controlled those services at the facility, the mayor said.

But those services were taken over in April 2012 by JAC Management, the company that runs the day-to-day operations at the center. The new arrangement provides more money for the city and greater flexibility for the center’s food-and- beverage services, Sammarone said.

The city has discussed building an amphitheater in the back of the center since early 2011 to help make money during the summer.

Sammarone wants to revisit the idea, saying it will generate more money for the facility.

In April 2011, Eric Ryan, the center’s executive director, said construction of an amphitheater for 2,500 to 3,500 people would cost between $600,000 and $1 million.


1bmanresident(607 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Good Point mayor!!! Party on the Plazas couldn't help your son's bar!!

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2redeye1(5512 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Didn't these same people know that these affairs are held in downtown and that streets would be closed while they were being held. Once again the people of the valley will screw up something with their complaining. Just like the people of Boardman and Canfield did to the super nats.

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3PhilKidd(188 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

This is the right call. There are many events downtown throughout the year that require blocking off streets. Most are one-day events. Some of the larger events require closing down several blocks for several days. Those who spend a good deal of time downtown realize this just isn't feasible any longer.

The larger events have been a great draw for downtown but some of these events have grown over time (a good thing) as has downtown (also a good thing). There is more business, residents and plain general circulation happening on a day-to-day basis (without events). Much more so than there has been in probably 30 or so years.

Within a year or so, you'll have several more developments: the Wick Building (30 apartments, 22 hotel units); Stamabugh Building (110 unit hotel); Wells Building (3 floors of apartments); Gallagher Building (3 floors of apartments; 2 restaurants); Farmer's National Bank (Realty Building).

This is, of course, in addition to things that have already developed over the past several years: Oh Wow!, Federal Building (apartments & businesses), VXI (20 Federal Place), Eastern Gateway Community College, PNC Bank, etc.

The Covelli Centre is a $42 million, taxpayer funded entertainment facility a block and a half from the center of downtown. It accommodates outdoor music events, sporting events and other entertainment events like rib burn-offs, etc. with no problem.

The Covelli Centre's executive director (Eric Ryan) is more than happy to make the transitions work. He's on record saying so. Moving larger events to Covelli would allow events to grow while also allowing for set up to take place without having to disrupt the rest of downtown for several days in advance. This is why we built the facility.

I attend almost all events downtown each year. I would continue to do so if they were just a block and a half away. And I think many others would, too.

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4peggygurney(408 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I agree, this is absolutely the right move. I'm not even a downtown apartment dweller, but a north side resident, and I'm tired of the main street closings almost every weekend downtown. I can only imagine how most of the apartment residents feel down there.

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