By Sean Barron
Barbara Franklin is frustrated with having to live between two houses that have fallen into disrepair.
Another source of frustration is what she sees as ambitious plans to tackle the challenges of blighted city neighborhoods that too often lead to inaction.
“I’d like to see the two homes torn down, remodeled or converted to starter homes,” said Franklin, who’s lived in her Idlewood Avenue residence on the South Side about 40 years.
Franklin was among those who voiced such concerns during Tuesday’s Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. meeting at the Newport branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, 3730 Market St. on the South Side.
The one-hour session was the second of nine meetings to collect residents’ input, concerns and priorities regarding what they feel is vital for neighborhood improvements and stabilization on citywide and neighborhood levels.
Such feedback is to be incorporated into data to develop a variety of strategies to meet those goals within a framework of limited financial resources, noted Ian J. Beniston, YNDC’s deputy director.
Franklin, a Sheridan Block Watch member, said she doesn’t understand why some homes in her area have sat vacant for several years before being boarded.
“I just want to see some action done,” she continued, adding that she also lives across the street from a dilapidated apartment building, which adds to the blight.
During the session, which focused mainly on the South Side’s Cottage Grove, Newport and Pleasant Grove sections, Beniston discussed the areas’ crime and population trends, average household income, property ownership, poverty rates and other demographics.
A large challenge is that the average home price is $21,000 in a city that has seen more than 50 years of population decline, which erodes the tax base, he noted.
At the meeting, two people said they want to see more done to improve quality-of-life issues.
One man explained that he tries to spruce up abandoned properties in his neighborhood, yet doing so often disguises code violations.
One man said if the city had been enforcing housing codes at the beginning, abandoned blighted properties wouldn’t happen.
Clarence Boles, a community activist and former city councilman, called for residents to be more proactive in addressing their needs.
He also advocated selling more vacant lots and converting them to useful purposes.
Downtown Youngstown continues to grow, but working to better the city’s neighborhoods must continue to be an ongoing process, said Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th.
Another difficulty is that city-government funds have been cut by nearly half, noted state Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th.
The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at New Covenant Worship Center, 1900 Canfield Road, in the city’s Cornersburg area.