A project next year will bring major changes to Fifth Avenue, one of Youngstown's main thoroughfares. “It’s going to be transformational. Fifth Avenue was built when we had two to three times the motor travel we have now,” said Brian Hughes, senior project manager for MS Consultants Inc., the project consultant. The project, from Federal Street to Madison Avenue, is expected to start in February or March 2020 and will reduce the number of lanes to three, add bus pull-off and transit-waiting areas, new sidewalks, pedestrian safety lighting and crossing signals, decorative crosswalks, bicycle lanes, streetscape work, new lighting and a path for an autonomous bus shuttle. A Tuesday open house on the project and the reduction of traffic lights in the area attracted only about 25 people, mostly those who work or live on or near Fifth Avenue, but the city plans to have a forum to hopefully attract more residents to talk about the projects.

The Youngstown Academic Distress Commission heard presentations Tuesday from school leaders about district progress, in response to an Ohio Department of Education review. Clairie Huff-Franklin, a state education official, presented the review last June, which showed a lack of communication to all stakeholders about progress, inconsistent educational evaluations, elementary school leadership teams without improvement plans, a lack of shared accountability, the selection of “instructional resources not aligned to Ohio’s Learning Standards” and support systems not fully implemented. District spokeswoman Denise Dick said the district has a developed communication plan that includes incorporating video into social media. Other recommendations are work on improvement plans, streamlining educational evaluations, aligning building improvement plans with district plans, improving professional development and ensuring consistent messages regarding expectations. The next ODE review will be March 18-21.

Boardman school officials say the work needed to complete the district’s realignment plan by June 30 is on target.

No community members attended a special session Tuesday to deliver an update on the preparations for the 2019-20 school year. Also Tuesday, officials said teachers will receive their building and classroom assignments in envelopes as they leave work Friday.

The third and possibly final public meeting regarding the Youngstown Air Reserve Station Joint Land Use Study attracted only about 20 people Tuesday as consultants close in on writing a draft and then a final report. Trumbull County obtained a Department of Defense grant that allowed it to hire the consulting company Matrix Design Group to help write the report, which is expected to wrap up in a couple months. The study’s goal is to identify ways to reduce current and future incompatible land uses around the reserve station in order to improve the chances the facility, which is the Mahoning Valley’s third largest employer, will continue its mission long into the future.

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