Youngstown administration officials, who have narrowed down the list to two firms, will decide shortly which will be hired to provide planning services for the city.
The finalists are: the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., which has the Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies as a partner; City Architecture of Cleveland with Lenz Planning & Development Services of Westlake as its partner.
A committee of administration officials met with the two entities, separately, a few weeks ago and will make a recommendation soon to Mayor Charles Sammarone as to which to hire. That decision will be made in the next 10 days, city officials say.
The city committee includes Finance Director David Bozanich; DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary; Bill D’Avignon, the city’s Community Development Agency director; and Scott Smith, the federal Strong Cities, Strong Community’s Community Solutions Team member, based in Youngstown.
Two other firms submitted proposals for the work, but the committee chose not to interview them, Bozanich and D’Avignon said.
Those firms are CZB LLC of Alexandria, Va., and APD Urban Planning & Management LLC of Jacksonville, Fla.
The committee is pleased with the YNDC/YSU and City Architecture/Lenz proposals and had concerns about the two out-of-town firms “in terms of geographic constraints and knowledge of our community,” Bozanich said.
YNDC and YSU are located in Youngstown and partner with the city on a number of projects, and City Architecture has been involved with a number of projects in the city including the Smoky Hollow-Wick Neighborhood Plan, Erie Terminal Place, Realty Tower Apartments and Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Village at Arlington housing project.
The firm hired to serve as the planning consultant would develop a citywide development plan, focusing on neighborhoods, downtown and the main corridors.
The YNDC/YSU proposal would be a 15-month process at a cost of about $145,000.
The City Architecture proposal would take 18 months at a cost of about $150,000.
“We don’t have the money to create a planning department in-house because it would be too expensive to hire several planners and office staff,” Sammarone said. “We get a better bang for the buck the way we’re going.”
The city has talked for years about hiring a planner.
The city has been without a planner since March 2009 when Anthony Kobak left after nine years on the job.