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Youngstown’s future is in the hands of its residents

Published: Sat, February 15, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

A 287-page report relaTING TO the condition of Youngstown’s neighborhoods provides some facts about the aging, shrinking city that should serve as a wake-up call for residents and others who believe that its viability is crucial to the Mahoning Valley’s well-being.

The report by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, the city’s planning agency, and Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies, is the culmination of a 15-month planning process.

Here are some of the facts about Youngstown that should generate discussion in the community and prompt a large turnout at the public meetings that have been scheduled to get residents’ input about the neighborhoods:

Youngstown’s population dropped from 95,732 in 1990 to 66,982 in 2010.

The average home price in 2012 was $21,327.

The median income in 2011 was $24,880.

There were 3,062 structures, mostly homes, demolished between 2007 and 2013.

The number of annual foreclosure filings fell from 650 to 287 between 2007 and 2012.

The annual number of traditional home-purchase mortgages decreased from 456 to 115 between 2007 and 2012.

In 2012, about 36 percent of Youngstown residents lived in poverty.

These are statistics that support the argument of urban planners over the years about the city of Youngstown needing to redefine itself.

Many residents will remember all the work that went into the development of Youngstown 2010, the city’s planning blueprint. There were public hearings in each of the seven wards and a communitywide meeting attended by 2,000 when the plan was finally unveiled.

While some of the recommendations have been adopted, others have fallen by the wayside because of little political support.

The latest effort by the city to focus on the neighborhoods should be viewed as a continuation of Youngstown 2010. Why? Because planners foresaw the decrease in population and made it clear city government could ill afford to maintain the same geographic area that once accommodated a population of more than 150,000.

There needs to be a public discussion on what to do about the neighborhoods that have deteriorated because of the loss of population, those that are borderline and the ones that are still in good shape.

The question that must be answered is this: Does it make economic sense to maintain residential areas that have few homes, or should residents be relocated and the green spaces created that require little maintenance?

Objective give-and-take

It is to be hoped that the public meetings will result in an unemotional, objective give-and-take about the future of the city’s neighborhoods.

The first of the meetings is scheduled for Feb. 26 for the Rocky Ridge/West Side area. It will be held at Our Lady of the Afflicted on South Belle Vista Avenue.

There will be eight other sessions throughout the city in March.

Details can be found on the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.’s website.

The future of the city is in the hands of the residents.

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