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Youngstown prepares to hire a firm to provide planning services



Published: Wed, May 15, 2013 @ 12:06 a.m.

Advertising for proposals to begin this week

photo

Sammarone

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The city will advertise as early as today for proposals from firms to provide planning services at a cost of up to $200,000 a year.

A company is expected to be hired in June or July.

City officials were finalizing the paperwork seeking requests for the planning work late Tuesday with the expectation of having it ready to be advertised between today and Friday, said Finance Director David Bozanich.

Moving ahead with hiring a planning firm is “long overdue,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone. “We need to have plans in place to rebuild our neighborhoods.”

The city plans to hire a planning consulting firm by June or July, Bozanich said.

The annual expense for a firm would be about $150,000 to $200,000, he said.

City council approved legislation last month to hire a firm for about $100,000 for the rest of this year.

The city has been without a planner since March 2009 when Anthony Kobak left after nine years on the job.

That work has been largely ignored with employees in the zoning department and Community Development Agency doing what they can to fill the void.

But that hasn’t worked, Sammarone said.

“We have to figure out ways to get people to stop leaving the city,” Sammarone said. “The biggest thing today is we’re losing population. We need to keep improving and strengthening neighborhoods through code enforcement and demolitions if we’re going to move forward.”

The city’s population has declined by 18.9 percent since 2000 and is at 66,545 as of 2011, according to a recent estimate by the American Community Survey on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau. Except for Detroit and Gary, Ind., Youngstown had the largest population decline in the nation of any city with at least 50,000 residents between 2000 and 2011, according to the estimate.

Other Ohio cities in the national top 10 in population decline include Cleveland, Dayton, Cincinnati, Canton and Toledo. Also, Akron, Lorain and Parma are in the top 18.

The firm hired by Youngstown will “see how we can rebuild neighborhoods and any other issues that surface,” Sammarone said. “They will need to be flexible.”

City officials decided to select a consulting firm rather than hire a planner as the former will provide more comprehensive service than one person, Sammarone said. Also, it would be too expensive for the city to rebuild its planning depart- ment with additional employees, he said.


Comments

1Southside_Res(146 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

I have a suggestion for these moronic city leaders, what about reducing the city income tax rate? It's the highest in the state, and now they admit they aren't helping the neighborhoods? Complete idiocy!!!

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2johnyoung(231 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

Someone once said: "Those who can, do; but those who can't, plan".

The Youngstown 2010 plan, which cost a hefty chunk of change a number of years ago, was supposed to be the framework for the future direction of the city, including its neighborhoods. Why not revisit and refine it?

The mayor seems to believe that some planning firm will somehow come up with another magic formula to improve the city. It's not going to happen. Youngstown's problems are well known to anyone who has been paying at least casual attention over the past two or three decades: 1) the overwhelming perception of crime and lack or citizen safety; 2) neighborhood blight; 3) inept and self-centered legislative body; 4) lack of commerce; and 5) sub-standard and ineffective services provided by city government.

In order to solve these problems, city government, especially city council, must be willing to implement an extensive public participation process through which the true needs and desires of Youngstown citizens may be discovered by actually listening to them and then implementing their suggestions. You don't need yet another plan to accomplish this, just individuals in elected city government who are willing to do the hard work for their paychecks.

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3Planter(18 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

I agree, John. Excellent points. May I add that the city schools could very well be the breaking point for young families. We live in a neighborhood that has had some transition, but we are holding on. Hate to say it but it is older neighbors doing the job. We do get good younger neighbors move in, but as soon as their children reach school age the families are gone. Can't say as I blame them.

I do see positive movement in our school system but more, lots more has got to be proven both academically and safety wise in the classrooms, on the playgrounds and on the buses before people will trust their greatest treasures, their children, to Youngstown.

Youngstown, the neighborhoods, has got to be cleaned up and made safe for people to not only move here but stay.

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4CongressWatcher(146 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

1. Highest income tax in the state. = Lower It
2. Violent Crime = Increase funds for jailing criminals
3. Schools in academic and fiscal emergencies = Fix them
4. Empty and Blighted Homes = Knock them down and make green space.
5. Lack of Parking Downtown = knock down some crap buildings

Perhaps controlled burns of blighted neighborhoods might work

Please send my $200,000 fee to the US Congress because they need more money to live lavishly on. My advice is free.

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