Plan seeks to revive Route 422 corridor; residents say 'not so fast'
By David Skolnick
An ambitious plan to redevelop the U.S. Route 422 corridor includes increased industrial areas, more lighting, medians, sidewalks, bike paths and improvements to neighborhoods.
However, a number of people at a public meeting Tuesday had a simple request.
“They need to clean up the area before doing anything else,” said Daryl Harvey, who lives in the Brier Hill neighborhood off 422. “We need to take care of that.”
Connie Stimpson, who also lives in Brier Hill, said, “The first thing to do is to clean the place up and make it look nice. It doesn’t look nice now. I want the neighborhood to be clean.”
The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the Trumbull County Planning Commission are spearheading an effort to redevelop the corridor.
They hired Interface Studio, a Philadelphia-based urban design and planning firm, for $150,000 to develop a plan for the portion of the corridor that encompasses 3,500 acres, 220 businesses and 8,500 residents. It’s bounded on the north by Liberty Street in Girard, on the east by state Route 193 [Belmont Avenue] in Liberty, on the south by state Route 711 in Youngstown and on the west by Meridian Road, also in Youngstown.
Scott Page, an Interface principal, presented proposals for what could be done with the corridor at the public meeting at St. Anthony of Padua Parish Social Hall on Turin Avenue on the city’s North Side. About 50 people attended.
Page didn’t provide cost estimates for any of the proposals but acknowledged much of it would be expensive and it could be challenging to obtain funding for the concepts.
A draft plan should be done next month with more time for public comments before the study is finalized, he said.
“We set a high standard, but we will take incremental steps to get there,” he said. “It’s about prioritizing.”
Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said, “Dreaming or visioning big is something we need to see from our residents and businesses. The report [that Interface Studio] will put out will be expensive, but there’s low-hanging fruit, too, such as addressing the cleanup of the corridors and improvements to neighborhoods just off 422. Like a lot of our corridors, 422 is ugly and needs to be cleaned up.”
McNally said this isn’t a quick-fix project but one that could take a decade to implement.
Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda, who also attended the meeting, said, “We’re hoping the study will help turn the 422 corridor into something as beautiful as they envision. We’re still in the beginning stages.”
Mike Krakora, who lives in Liberty and owns a business in Youngstown, said, “All of the ideas sound great. I hope we can make them happen. You can take baby steps. People understand it takes time.”
The study will look at creating more jobs in the corridor, working to get residents in the area hired for those jobs, reducing blight and enhancing the look of the communities along the corridor, Page said.
Talk of redevelopment in the area started in 2010 when Vallourec Star invested $1.1 billion for a pipe mill along the route.