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Youngstown solicits feedback from West Side residents

Published: Thu, February 27, 2014 @ 12:09 a.m.


Ian Beniston, deputy director of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., shows police service calls in a neighborhood during a meeting to gather community input on how to better stabilize and develop neighborhoods in the present and future.




The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the city of Youngstown solicited input from West Side residents at the first of what’s intended to be a series of meetings.

“The most important thing we’re doing here tonight is obtaining your feedback,” Ian Beniston, YNDC deputy director, told the residents filling the community room of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted on Wednesday.

Beniston briefly discussed the YNDC’s recently released neighborhood conditions report, which contains information about Youngstown neighborhoods’ populations, socioeconomic conditions, housing, transportation and health/environment.

The meeting focused on the portion of the West Side from the Wick Recreation Area to north of Mahoning Avenue, known as the Rocky Ridge neighborhood.

“We’re not presenting a plan to you tonight,” Beniston said. “We’re here to solicit feedback.”

To do that, residents were asked to list what they considered the neighborhood’s top three assets and the top three priorities.

Bill Black, a West Side resident, counted Mill Creek MetroParks, good streets and an old church turned into a community center as the area’s assets. He listed heavy school area traffic, a need for youth activities, and a need to fight poverty as the priorities to be addressed. Children play in the streets, he noted, and poverty-stricken residents aren’t able to maintain their homes.

Black attended the event after reading about the YNDC report.

“I’m basically just trying to figure out what it’s about,” he said.

Residents were also asked to list the one thing the YNDC and the city need to know to improve the city and its neighborhoods.

Politics will probably trump plans, Black noted.

The people who compiled the report are well-meaning and working hard, he said. However, he’s unsure if the plans will be implemented.

Doris Baugh, also a West Side resident, is hopeful something positive will come out of the meetings.

Rental properties in the area are not being maintained, she said, and sees that as a priority.

“Our area of the neighborhood’s really nice, but the rental property area isn’t,” she said.

Renters and landlords don’t maintain the properties. The yards don’t look nice and unused vehicles are on the street, which lowers property values, she said.

“We spent a lot of money keeping our house up and maintaining it, because we’re not going anywhere,” she said.

Meetings will be held in other areas of the city, to solicit input, Beniston said. The data obtained will be compiled and within a couple of months citywide recommendations and priorities will be determined. Neighborhood-specific plans will take longer.

“There are some constraints,” Beniston said. “The city does have limited resources.”

That makes it important to prioritize, he added.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 4 at the Newport library branch, 3730 Market St.


1westsiderscare(35 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The westside YNDC meeting held 2/26/13 was not what I was expecting. It was stated it was just to get some input on the situations of the neighborhoods of the westside. What concerned me was part of the community has renamed their area as the Rocky Ridge and was mainly the topic of the disscussion. We all have the same zip code and if neighborhoods are going to divide themselves off in their own little community nothing will get done. We need to come together as a whole community to get things accomplished, such as the blight,rental properties and vacant homes. This is a big concern and problem of the majority of the westside. These problems are destroying our neighborhoods and it could soon happen to the Rocky Ridge area. So we need to come together as a whole. Rocky Ridge may not have the issues as other neighborhoods of the westside do, but if the YNDC commitee concentrates on this one area, I'm afraid the rest of us will be left out. I would appreciate any feedback, if I misunderstood anything that was said at the Wednesday meeting.

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2UticaShale(854 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The YNDC morphed from the MVOC community organizing bent. Look at the history of the MVOC and ACORN, do they really wish to help the area or is a voting block the prize?

Think about it folks, Youngstown 2000, Youngstown 2010? These plans have always been created to excite the low information. Meanwhile look at the salaries of these organizations. Yes it's nice to have little vegetable gardens and murals on the walls, but the core is still rotten.

Think of it this way, anyone or organization if money is thrown at it can look good. Free enterprise is the only way throughout history to prosper. YNDC is subsidized and competing with the private sector, under free enterprise rules. If you give a developer the resources that the YNDC sucks up from nonprofits and grants, the result is artificial renovation of homes. One only has to look at all the vinyl sided new homes CHOICE built in the last few decades from PORK and not free enterprise. The YNDC urban farming?, the USA is the greatest agriculture powerhouse in the world, why aren't real farmers invited in to teach the low information? Truth is, it is a ruse , a sideshow, a vehicle of socialism. The danger of this Youngstown 2010 dance is that it offers no real solutions but can become a political pressure group.

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3Ianacek(909 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Doris Baugh said “Our area of the neighborhood’s really nice, but the rental property area isn’t,”
With the aid of the County Auditors website and Google Streetview , I've checked out the first block of Doris' street ; which I presume to constitute her "rental property area" . I found 12 apparently investor owned properties . All looked tidy and were current with taxes . There were 9 owner occupied . All looked tidy , but 3 were multiple years tax delinquent and 1 of these was bankrupt , according to records.
This block has small 1920's workers cottages , while Doris' end of the street are larger postwar houses with good setbacks. These houses will naturally be more appealing. It has little to do with who owns them .
I saw no "unused vehicles on the street" , but maybe this is a recent phenomenon . If immobile cars are parked on the street , Doris should call the City .
I know the community organizers are fond of nay saying landlords , but the reality is rather different . It's a tenants market for rental properties in Youngstown City & rentals have to meet City registration criteria as well. Youngstown's blight was caused by thousands of financially stressed owner occupiers abandoning their properties . Landlords have saved so many more by investing their own money ( seldom any grants or subsidies ) to make places habitable & no longer a neighborhood safety hazard. The tenants help support local businesses . It's easier for a landlord to get rid of a badly behaving tenant than to get rid of a problem owner occupier. I've seen examples of both . If a tenant is causing problems , residents should just let the owner or property manager know . Most landlords know its in their interest to do something about it .
Meanwhile , as my survey showed , there are still owner occupiers unable to meet their obligations to the County and meet the responsibilities of ownership.
If it wants the neighborhoods to recover economically , the City needs to put less emphasis on providing low income housing and more on attracting residents with jobs or marketable skills - and who are also good neighbors , whether they own or rent their accommodation.

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