East Side residents at a meeting to discuss a citywide plan say their part of Youngstown is often ignored.
“We need more attention on the East Side,” said Cynthia Davis, an East Side resident. “Areas elsewhere in the city are getting attention. We need help on the East Side. We have a lot of residents who care about their homes and their neighborhoods, but there’s only so much we can do.”
It was a familiar theme at Tuesday’s meeting at Price Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on Dryden Avenue. About 50 people attended to hear an overview of research done by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., the city’s planning agency.
YNDC is having public meetings throughout the city to obtain input on its “Neighborhood Conditions Report.”
This was the first meeting on the East Side, and YNDC’s fourth of nine such gatherings throughout the city.
The meetings are to determine priorities for stabilizing and developing neighborhoods using “the city’s limited resources to make improvements,” said Tom Hetrick, a YNDC neighborhood planner.
“The city doesn’t have a lot of money to fix the problems,” he said.
Some at the meeting were quite skeptical that a finished plan from YNDC will do anything.
“Personally, all of this is for naught,” said the Rev. Lawrence Underwood, an East Side resident. “They’re wasting their time and money. Until we focus on education, we can’t do anything about housing and employment. We’re going at it in the wrong manner. Education is the key. It’s the way to improve employment. Without education, no business is going to want to come here and open up.”
But others were optimistic.
Warren Harrell of the East Side said there is a lot of vacant land on that side of the city, but there are also stable families residing there.
“We need to start selling the area as a positive place,” he said. “There is hope.”
Despite huge pockets of abandonment on the city’s East Side, Hetrick said population there has increased over the past 20 years.
But the main reason for that, he said, is the East Side is the home to two prisons and prisoners count in U.S. Census population counts.
The East Side also has the lowest population density of any part of the city, Hetrick said. That means there’s a lot of space with fewer people.
YNDC pointed out positives on the East Side including the Lincoln Knolls Plaza, the McGuffey Centre, East High School, churches and city parks. Among its drawbacks, according to YNDC, are vacant houses, vacant businesses, tax delinquency, poverty, high unemployment and the dumping of debris.