Wednesday, January 26, 2005

2010 shows model city

I thought this article from a November issue of The Valley Voice was interesting regarding the Youngstown 2010 plan. The plan for Youngstown 2010 will be revealed tomorrow, January 27th at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Date: November 19, 2004

YOUNGSTOWN — The city as the subject of a forum at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities normally would send shudders through civic leaders.
They’d expect Youngstown to be the poster child for at least one of its many foibles: economic decline, high crime, corruption.

Instead, for a change the focus is on what the city is doing right.

Youngstown 2010 was held up as a model for urban revitalization this week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

Jay Williams, the city’s Community Development Agency director, and Sarah Lown, director of economic development and the Eastgate Council of Governments, spent Wednesday at M.I.T. They were keynote speakers at a discussion series sponsored by the M.I.T. school of planning and architecture.

The series brings together students and faculty to talk about housing, community development and planning topics with other top academics and professionals.

The discussion series focuses on third-tier cities, defined as older, smaller, industrial cities still primary to their regional economic base.

Lown and Williams talked about Youngstown 2010 and how it might have far-reaching and long-lasting implications for the Mahoning Valley. Today’s planning is positioning the city for its place in the world in 10 to 15 years, Williams said.

They also talked about how 2010 might apply to cities across the country in similar situations.

"There are lessons to be learned in Youngstown, Ohio, and to showcase it at an institution such as M.I.T. says something," Williams said. "It speaks volumes to us. It’s a validation."

Corruption and economic failure serve only as the backdrop to what is becoming a Youngstown success story, he said.

Such forums are the way the city eventually will change its bemoaned image as a place where industry died and the mob thrived, Williams said.

Youngstown is taking on the role today that such places as Chattanooga, Tenn., played a decade ago, he said. Chattanooga is considered a model for how a small city can revive itself.

Youngstown 2010 ended up at M.I.T. via a consultant familiar with the city.

The consultant for Mt. Auburn Associates of Somerville, Mass., who also is an M.I.T. professor, had used Youngstown as a top example in a study of third-tier cities, Williams said. Mt. Auburn did consulting work for the city on its federal Renewal Community zone designation.

The consultant suggested Youngstown 2010 officials speak to the school, he said.

"It helps us tell our own story," said Anthony Kobak, the city’s chief planner. "It sheds more light on the good things that are happening in the planning process. I know we’re doing some really good things."

Such recognition shows Youngstown 2010 officials are doing some ground-breaking planning, he said.

Youngstown 2010 and its approach will be the subject in a chapter of a textbook on public participation that will be published in the summer, Kobak said.

Copyright © 2004 The Valley Voice - All Rights Reserved

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