By Sean Barron
A woman who lives in the Lincoln Knolls section of the East Side spent several years investing some of her money into maintaining a vacant parcel next door to her with the intention of buying the lot.
Her plans were thwarted, however, when an out-of-state entity bought the property instead.
Her situation represents what many city residents say occurs too often: People from out of the area buy properties but fail to maintain or pay the taxes on them.
The woman, who didn’t wish to give her name, expressed her frustration during Tuesday’s Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. meeting at the East Branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, 430 Early Road.
She was part of a standing-room-only crowd of about 60 elected officials and residents who attended the latest in a series of one-hour gatherings throughout the city. The sessions are to collect people’s input, feedback, assessments and priorities for achieving neighborhood stabilization, organizers said.
The data will be used to develop comprehensive strategies aimed at improving neighborhoods’ vitality against a backdrop of limited city resources, noted Thomas A. Hetrick, a neighborhood planner.
The meeting focused on the East Side’s Lincoln Knolls, Lincoln Park/Hazleton, McGuffey Heights and East High sections.
Hetrick outlined several demographics, noting that much of the area has seen a population increase in the last 20 years, yet is among the least densely populated parts of the city.
Another trend is the decrease in the number of home mortgages coupled with relatively few foreclosures, he explained.
Parts of the East Side also have an increase in the number of properties owned by people or businesses from out of state, which often leads to an uptick in tax delinquencies, Hetrick continued.
Also, he said, the area has seen increases and decreases in the rate of childhood poverty since 1990, as well as the same pattern regarding calls to police.
One woman echoed a concern that organizers said has been brought up at every meeting: repairing potholes.
City council is exploring ways to come up with additional funding for that purpose, noted Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th.
Another resident worried about people who want to maintain their homes but lack the money, and another man said he felt money that should have been used to make repairs to Lincoln Park has been wasted.
The city has a certain amount of Community Development Block Grant money for limited repairs, noted Bill D’Avignon, the city’s director of community planning, adding that Interfaith Home Maintenance Service Inc. functions similarly.
In addition, Youngstown is working with the state to secure additional funds to repair bridges at Lincoln Park, said Councilman T.J. Rogers, D-2nd.
Three meetings remain. The next is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Oak Hill Collaborative, 507 Oak Hill Ave. on the South Side.