YOUNGSTOWN - Calling future revitalization of 3,500 acres in a swath of land along the Mahoning River from Youngstown to Girard "excellence in regional planning," officials from two counties, two cities and several local development agencies came together Friday to kick it off.
Momentum for the project began in recent years when Vallourec Star moved its multi-million pipe mill into the river corridor at the border of Girard and Youngstown. From there, local development leaders began to envision what other opportunities might exist for the area, said Regional Chamber president and CEO Tom Humphries.
"We see this as an opportunity for a gateway to our community for Trumbull and Mahoning counties," Humphries said.
Friday officials from the Regional Chamber, Trumbull County Planning Commission and Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, along with 14 other public and private funding partners announced the start of the planning process, including the hiring of Philadelphia-based Interface Studio. Interface, touted as an expert in metropolitan planning, already has begun gathering data and reaching out to the public for information and ideas.
Scott Page, Interface founder, said the plan and how to make it a reality should be completed by January.
"We will be collecting a lot of data so we can get an understanding of what's happening on the ground, looking at land patterns, infrastructure, mobility and asking a lot of questions," Page said. Already he said he sees the highway and rail access as a major asset, along with existing business in the area.
Tribune Chronicle / Brenda J. Linert
Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka addresses community leaders and the media Friday about plans to study the U.S. Route 422 corridor.
"Businesses want to be next to other businesses," Page said.
The plan will include a series of strategies, some which could be implemented within the first year. It will focus on things like commercial development areas, aesthetics, transportation and how to improve the first impression of visitors and potential developers. The plan also will cite ways to get it done, including identifying funding sources and strategy for implementation.
"We really need a plan that identifies a clear vision for the future, but also the steps it will take to get there," Page said.
422 corridor facts
Borders include: Liberty Street, Girard; state Route 193, Youngstown; Meridian Road, Youngstown; and 711 Connector.
Source: Scott Page, Interface Studio
The company will collect about $150,000 for the work, originating from more than a dozen public and private funding sources including land banks in both counties, foundation grants from the Raymond Wean Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio and the Youngstown Foundation, the cities of Youngstown and Girard, the Western Reserve Port Authority, Youngstown and Trumbull County Metropolitan Housing Authorities, Girard Community Improvement Corporation, Trumbull commissioners and Vallourec Star.
The idea and solicitation for funding has been under way for about six months, said Trumbull County Planning Commission Grants Coordinator Julie Green.
Presley L. Gillespie, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, one of the partners in the private-public collaboration, said the key to accomplishing the goal is the regional collaboration.
"We view planning partnerships and robust involvement to be critical," Gillespie said. "We also know that vibrant livable communities begin with quality streets and industrial corridors."