South Side residents say city needs to do more to help neighborhoods
By David Skolnick
South Side residents say they’re upset and frustrated about the condition of their neighborhoods and don’t believe the city is doing enough to help resolve the problems.
About 70 people attended Thursday’s meeting at the Oak Hill Collaborative, 507 Oak Hill Ave., to hear an overview of research done by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., the city’s planning agency.
It was the ninth public meeting the agency and city officials have had throughout Youngstown to obtain input on YNDC’s “Neighborhood Conditions Report.” The South Side neighborhoods discussed Thursday included Oak Hill, Uptown and Fosterville.
The area has seen the most population loss in Youngstown in the past two decades, has the city’s lowest median income, is above average for major crimes, and half of all of the properties are tax-delinquent, compared with one-third for the rest of the city, said Tom Hetrick, a YNDC neighborhood planner.
“It’s an extremely weak housing market” area, he said.
Two meetings are left, then YNDC will use the information it’s compiling for a report that will guide the city with its limited financial resources toward efforts to improve Youngstown, Hetrick said.
But several people at Thursday’s meeting said the city isn’t doing enough to save their South Side neighborhoods.
“I want more cops to be available,” said Lula Stubbins, a South Side resident. “People throw their trash into empty lots. They dump cement blocks and roofing materials there, too. People rent houses and don’t keep them up. I’ve called everyone at city hall for years, and nothing has happened. If we had a cop patrol every now and then, that would help.”
Others mentioned prostitution, illegal drug use, broken sidewalks, vacant houses and vandalism as problems.
Candy Tarpley said previous city plans didn’t address problems in some areas of the city, including large portions of the South Side.
“We’re not stupid,” she said. “We want a plan that’s all-inclusive. We’re disenfranchised here.”
In response, Hetrick said, “We don’t want this plan to sit on a shelf.”
Marvin Bankhead, a South Side resident, said residents need to “remain vigilant” when it comes to keeping an eye on illegal activities and calling the police.
“Everybody has to be accountable,” he said. “We all know the problems. I had hoped I’d hear more of the solutions.”
Elnora Sipp, president of the Four Square Block Watch on the South Side, said vacant lots are used to illegally dump tires.
“We’re all older people,” she said. “We get out and try to do what we can do, but we need help. Nobody’s doing anything about dumping.”
Most of the other meetings have lasted about an hour to 90 minutes. Thursday’s meeting was ended after close to two hours with people there still wanting to discuss the problems in their neighborhoods.