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« Project Mom

‘Tis the Season to Bash Youngstown

By Geniene P. (Contact)

Published October 28, 2008

International News French24 "Hard Times in Swing State Ohio"      

Yes, I know people out there are thinking “Typical French, they hate Americans.”  C’mon, admit it, you were thinking that.  I try to be less biased having lived there one summer for a college international business program and having minored in the language.  I have been there a few more times since the ‘80’s and there are more wonderful experiences than negative. However, this report certainly paints a horrendous image of our city and that isn’t fair.  They filmed areas and businesses that, frankly, I have never seen and don’t know where they are located.  They ignore the amazing YSU campus, beautiful Mill Creek Park and any positive imagery whatsoever. 

Before the suburbs of Youngstown get all high and mighty, they too are referenced in this piece and aren’t separated out as stellar.  I find it interesting how many responses I read to pieces on vindy.com where citizens of the greater Youngstown area think that their suburbs aren’t considered Youngstown.  I have to tell you that if you travel outside of Youngstown - Boardman, Canfield, Poland, etc. are lumped into the Youngstown identity.  It’s like saying Pepper Pike or Avon Lake aren’t Cleveland. Deal with it and join the various groups that are trying to resurrect Youngstown.  All the negativity does no one any good.  Our internal bashing of Youngstown city schools (gosh, they are just children) or the downtown area hurts everyone. 

The piece barely mentions Mayor Jay Williams and his efforts to help our town.  I’m sure I’ll be reading that some of you out there don’t think he’s doing a good job. I’ve read it on other blogs.  Again, he’s trying.  What are you doing to help?  Sitting at your computer and extolling that you don’t live in the Youngstown city limits so it’s not your problem?  Again, where is that Youngstown pride and unity I grew up with?  I came back last year after leaving to go to Ohio State in the ‘80’s to live here and raise my daughter.  I’ve lived in New York City and saw that city resurrect crime ridden neighborhoods much worse than Youngstown.  It can be done.  Sure, Youngstown isn’t New York but we can pave our own way to make things better in our own right. 

Call me an optimist, naïve, what have you but we need to get our collective head out of the ground and help one another.  The territorial in-fighting amongst this side of town or that side of town isn’t going to do it.  Depending solely upon GM Lordstown and union jobs isn’t going to cut it, either.  We have let our best source of talent and education and great minds from YSU leave rather than seek out industries and businesses that can accommodate white collar jobs as well as blue collar.  We have area groups like the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Grow Youngstown and Defend Youngstown making an effort.  Our country is on the cusp of making a great change, change filled with hope and optimism.  Let’s not lose this energy and enthusiasm but build upon it to make our change right here at home.  Now, that is the Youngstown I grew up in and my grandparents came to in the early 1900’s. 


1tylersclark(182 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


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2YoungstownKidd(40 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


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3Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Please enlighten me as to how a President Obama will be better for Youngstown that other Democratic Presidents such as President Clinton or President Carter(who presided over Black Monday, and who shares a very similar admiration for GDP-busting tax policies on the productive).

Please see what I see, pure local Democratic Party leadership for decades, and the result being criminal local politicians often times landing in prison, #14th ranked city in crime nationwide, decay, job loss and international infamy.

Why hasn't the national Democratic Party "spread the wealth" here? Why the neglect? Congress has doled out pork like there are no consequences. Where's Youngstown's slice?

My humble suggestions for Youngstown's Renaissance:

1. Fire Coach Heacock
2. Tell your Democratic "leadership" collectively that Y-town's done being their chumps unless some pork heads this way. Use that pork for infrastructure such as a riverfront gaslight district with shops (outlets), restaurants, condos and CASINOS.
3. Downsize city council and all of the support staff, including travel expenses.
4. Even with a negative balance sheet, you've got to increase the size of the YPD. No one wants to spend money in a city where they may be victimized.
5. Lowering corporate and property taxes will increase revenues over time, so do it.
6. Nationwide PR campaign showcasing all that is unique and beautiful about Youngstown; MCP, YSU, Powers, Butler...
7. Annex surrounding townships and turn them into new wards. Their taxes will drop as much of the expensive government bureacracy will be eliminated. This will take political skill as these communities now see Y-town as beyond repair.
8. Fire Coach Heacock

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4th(61 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Kudos Geniene, it's always great to hear another voice for optimism.

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5Erplane(473 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Geniene - Great shout out to the Suburbinites! It ceases to amaze me when I am back home visiting the Valley that people in Canfield, Poland, and other places think of their enclave as a fortress of purity in the Mahoning Valley. The Saturday I was home my old high school buds and spouses went to the Mooney game, then when we went to Cedars we couldnt find a parking spot at first!! Wow, that was a first for me in downtown Youngstown. The city is looking better and better. And let me tell you, many big cities in the U.S. dont know how they will deal with foreclosures and recessions. Yet Ytown has an actual gameplan now. Its the Valley's time to shine!!
Eric P

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6debraweaver(30 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Geniene!

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7lucy(123 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Well said, Geniene!

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8YoungstownKidd(40 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


Despite the bite, I think you identify a few good points that a good number of folks here in the city fighting for advancement can agree with. My opinion.

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9Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago


When Youngstown has been your home, your heart can never leave it. The author and all of the posters here clearly love our homeland, and we all are hurt by the smack we see in blogs and in the media.

We need to "change" the gameplan here in Youngstown. We've gotta get our elected to take bold steps, or replace them with visionaries with energy and courage.

I'd like to see other ideas posted about how to make Youngstown flourish. I have little confidence that ideas of any value will come from our "leadership."

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10pennysmom(8 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

well said genine. thanks for sticking up for us. have you thought about running? you'd be our dose of optimism. keep writing!

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11Cbarzak(110 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

That's the spirit everyone could use to change the way they see the world around them.

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12Erplane(473 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

In following Nonsocialists request, here are a few ideas I always thought Ytown should be working on:

1) Remember that Defense payroll center that Bush Sr. promised and Clinton rescinded (much to your logic that the Dems dont need to invest in the Valley b/c its always a lock for them)? Well, I sincerely think that the next administration should be consolidating operations of the bloated Dept of Homeland Security. There is alot of investment needed in systems for that agency, and it shouldnt all be based in DC (DHS should have backup operations in place). Ytown should be putting a proposal in place for that

2) I love the Grow Youngstown campaign that Ryan and YSU came up with. I always thought the Valley should have a Homecoming around Thanksgiving or Christmas when people return to the Valley to visit family. It could be a mix of cultural and business development.

3) There should be a focused, defined 3-way entrance gate pt b/t YSU, downtown, and Mill Creek Park. It would make YSU more attractive for students, and bring a sense of urban renewal. It would require tearing down that ridiculous prison and expanding the park further into the city. Put a big fountain at the point

4) The Chamber plan to collapse school districts administrations is dead on, esp when using the savings to invest in the kids of the Valley having subsidized college/trade school education

5) The city needs to sell the Chevy Center - maybe to YSU. YSU should pay $1 more than the debt the city owes on it (I think ($12m). Move all of YSU hoops there, and build an outdoor ampitheater on the site next to the Mahoning River so it has some utlization during the off summer months.

6) Take a dedicated hood near downtown that has vacant homes, and create an artist incubator. Have a program run by the Butler to help bring in Artists who could live and work on the dirt cheap. But it needs scale - artists need to be around other artists. This spawns a better youth movement which attracts youth, energy, education, and eventually helps with negative perceptions of the Valley

7) Tressel and Bob Stoops should hold a high school coaches summer camp in the Valley. Those names would be big draws and would help the econony one-two weeks a year.

8) For god's sakes the Warner Brothers came from Youngstown - shouldnt we be pitching the idea of local production studio? I knew its far-fetched, but hey why not?

Okay, back to my job.....

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13projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Erplane - great ideas! As for 8, I've asked around about film production due to our Warner heritage, too. I hear its a matter of unions. Having lived in NYC & being around a lot of film production (and struggling actors), I know if you don't have good relations with the respective unions - it gets tricky. Wouldn't it be nice if we tried to have music downtown like we do at Boardman Park where people sit on the lawn with a picnic basket and listen to jazz or blues or the symphony? Phil - take that one to the mayor. ;)

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14YoungstownKidd(40 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree completely. Trust me, there is no shortage of great ideas for downtown activity. It is a simple matter of resource. 2009 is going to be very, very difficult fiscally for the city and even further cuts will be made. As an insider and an active outsider of City Hall, citizens must understand that the waiting for the City to make things happen just isn't going to work. The City simply does not have the resources or the personnel to remain as proactive as it needs or would like to be. If the idea and organization behind the idea is good, they can and will assist but it's up to us to come up w/ the solutions and have them assit us in making it happen.

My opinion is that we need to form an organization much like Trumbull County's "Trumbull 100" which is a collection of the county's top fiscal elite. They have formed a trust fund with finical distribution largely dedicated to quality of life improvents for the Warren area. The best example I can provide would be the Warren Outdoor Amphitheater (a common-area entertainment venue that is DESPERATELY needed in downtown Youngstown). That project (among many other you'll find in downtown Warren) was funded by the T100. I think the formulation for a "Mahoning 100" is def. doable.

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15backhome(8 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

So glad to hear other optimists have moved back here, realizing how vital it is to reclaim the city. Having lived in Southern California for a long time, I know how the San Fernando Valley tries consistently to secede from Los Angeles. It consistently fails, thank God, because suburbs need to support cities. City/suburbs need a core. And usually that core is pre-determined by history. The core of Youngstown is the downtown, YSU, Stambaugh, Powers, with our incomparable Mill Creek Park running along.

Some of the ideas proposed in these comments are really worth developing. Given Youngstown's highly competitive nature, the idea of a summer coaches' camp sounds very winning. Already, we have some of the best theater at YSU and The Playhouse, and the best music this side of New York. Last week's Dana Symphony performance of Shostakovich was breathtaking - and affordable - in a lovely new hall.

Jay Williams is trying to persuade people to see the city in its new, better light. More of us should support him, and it.

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16projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Sounds to me like Jay needs a committee or a community group like those of us here. Seriously, is there any forum for fresh, new ideas by optimists here? Call it the "Ytown Optimist Club"? ;) I encounter many people in city politics here that have made it their career (with little private sector experience). They luck out with connections to get their jobs & run for office & just get voted in because they are an incumbant. I'm a die-hard Democrat but I don't see the local leader of our party reaching out to any new visionaries or fresh energy. What does one do in this predicament? It's rare and difficult to get involved in politics, and win, in this city as an Independent. Any ideas?

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17Erplane(473 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe its time to create a forum within the city that brings people who want to be involved in politics, but they have to check their party affiliation at the door. Mayor Williams should be honorary chair, and have poly sci profs from YSU, and others who can help incubate and support people (maybe even irregardless of their positions). This way people are instilled with a sense of duty and are not beholden to anyone or any party for favors.

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