Youngstown residents express concerns to officials


By Sean Barron


It irritates Karen McGarry when motorists drive too fast and ignore stop signs on streets near her Colby Avenue home on the East Side.

“Armstrong [Avenue] is ridiculous. McGuffey [Road] is like a raceway, too,” she said, referring to drivers who regularly exceed a safe speed while calling for a greater number of speed-limit signs in the area.

McGarry was among the estimated 35 people who attended Tuesday’s Northeast Homeowners and Concerned Citizens Association meeting.

The two-hour session at Price Memorial AME Zion Church, 920 Dresden Ave. on the East Side, gave residents an opportunity to meet and express their concerns and compliments to several elected officials and department heads.

The nonprofit association, started in the early 1970s, offers neighborhood-beautification and litter-control efforts, block-watch assistance and other improvement projects for area residents, noted Artis Gillam Sr., president.

The organization is continuing to work to revitalize neighborhoods, in part by bringing together a greater number of homeowners and partnering with other such groups to maintain and improve property standards as well as promote residents’ interests, he said.

McGarry added that she’s happy with the direction the city is taking and wants to see more people make their voices heard.

Many residents have everyday concerns this time of year, such as snow removal and potholes, noted Sean T. McKinney, buildings and grounds commissioner.

“We are in the season of potholes” because of continual freeze-thaw cycles, he said.

The city street department is committed to clearing primary roads, on which are the bulk of businesses, along with secondary and tertiary roads, McKinney explained, adding that the department also sees the importance of cutting grass on open lots.

Some of the city’s systemic problems are the result of factors that include a decrease in local-government funds and limited state dollars, noted Councilman L. Nathaniel Pinkard, D-3rd.

Youngstown, which has become a “much leaner” city in the past three years, needs a more-comprehensive economic-development plan, as well as a greater number of small and midsize grocery stores to tackle food deserts, added Pinkard, who chairs council’s safety committee.

Pinkard told attendees he’s concerned about a “prison industrial complex” in which he feels too many minor drug offenders are behind bars. Consequently, drug laws should be re-examined, he continued.

People should be vigilant about small problems in their neighborhoods such as potholes and burned-out streetlights, said Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st.

To report potholes, residents are encouraged to call the Youngstown Street Department at 330-744-3179, Gillam noted, adding that Albert Street is slated for paving next spring.

Mayor John A. McNally told the audience he is willing to work with the home-owners association and other similar groups.

Police Chief Robin Lees said he plans to continue many of the programs his predecessor, Rod Foley, developed for keeping the city as safe and operable as possible.

Additional remarks came from Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th.

The next Northeast Homeowners Association meeting is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11 at Price Memorial Church.

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