By danny restivo
Council President Reynald Paolone said the key to revitalizing the city lies with council and U.S. Route 422.
“Developing that corridor and tapping into the potential at V&M Star is something we all need to work on,” said Paolone.
Paolone was renominated as council president during the Democratic Party primary last week. He defeated challenger Mike Costarella with 52 percent of the vote. No Republican or independent has filed for the position, so, barring a write-in candidate, Paolone is virtually assured of re-election in November.
Paolone, a government teacher and softball coach at Girard High School, has been a member of city council for nearly 20 years and president of council since 2005. He said the support he received from his former students and teachers made the difference.
“This victory was a reflection on my service I’ve provided to the community,” he said. “This election showed that the people still believe in my honesty and integrity.”
Before the primary election, Paolone said the growth potential with V&M Star was “unlimited.” He said getting council to act on the 422 corridor would be his “number one” priority if re-elected. V&M Star recently finalized a $1.1 billion expansion project in a joint economic zone south of the city. Paolone believes there could be a positive ripple effect for Girard, including more business investment for the area.
Mayor James Melfi and Paolone agree that Girard’s proximity to Interstate 80 and V&M Star makes it a prime area for economic growth. Paolone said working cooperatively with the mayor and the rest of council is critical for the revitalization effort to take shape.
“Our downtown area needs to tap into the action that is going on at the southern portion of U.S. Route 422.” said Paolone.
The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., the Trumbull County Planning Commission and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber are collaborating on an economic-growth study for the area.
Paolone said he also would like to see the city’s lakes being utilized in the future. Formerly known as the Girard and Liberty lakes, the city purchased the 1,000-acre property in 1995 from the Ohio Water Service with a $2.5 million loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority. After paying 20 years of interest, Girard expects to have paid about $4.9 million by 2015.
The city was released from fiscal emergency in June 2012, and Paolone understands staying in the black is key to a bright future for the city.