Liberty residents asked for input on updating township’s image

LIBERTY — Residents are being asked to get creative in helping to develop a new image for Liberty Township.

Trustee Arnie Clebone, along with RJ Thompson, held the first of four informational sessions regarding the branding of Liberty on Tuesday night. About 30 residents came to the session to learn what this project entails.

“Why are we concerned with branding Liberty? I think it’s about selling Liberty. Why do we have to sell Liberty? We need to retain and attract people and businesses,” Clebone said. “We want to make this a place where people want to be. If people see something they like, they’ll come back and they might even think about living here.”

Thompson and his partner, Kent Kerr, are both design professors at Youngstown State University and work for +Public, a community communications, research and design company. The company wants to take real stories and perspectives and shape them into an image that can help the community flourish and succeed for a bright future. To do that, +Public wants as many people in the community as possible to be involved with this project.

“We want you to be as involved as you want to be in this project,” Thompson said. “We can’t make something for you, without you.”

They encouraged residents to think about why they love Liberty and why they call it home. Interim police Chief Toby Meloro said he tried to move away, but missed the area and came back. He also thought his children would want to move away from the area, but they love it and are staying.

“When I first got out of college, I moved out of here to go make it in the world, but I missed Liberty. I couldn’t wait to come home,” Meloro said.

To avoid a generic slogan, Thompson and Kerr encourage residents to take control of what their community means to them and what it should look like. The residents said when they think of Liberty, they think of family, friends, neighbors and diversity among other things. All of these ideas will help Kerr and Thompson develop a singular image of Liberty.

This new brand will ultimately draw more people to the township and improve economic development.

“How might we draw greater attention to business? We are putting it in a positive light and are framing it as a question of a problem that can be solved,” said Kerr.

This multi-step plan will first involve the community in giving Liberty an identity with a logo and a website. After this, a communication platform will take shape and lead to creative placemaking, which will transform unused space within the township to drive economic development.

“What better way to sell Liberty that to sell its stories,” said Thompson. “You are your own entity and we want to empower that. We can’t do it without you guys.”

This plan will merge with the Belmont Avenue Corridor Study to further solidify Liberty’s identity. The study, a joint effort with Youngstown, is aimed at identifying ways to improve traffic safety in the section of Belmont Avenue between Giant Eagle in the township and Federal Street in downtown Youngstown.

Thompson expects to launch the new Liberty Township logo and website in mid-July.