Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Greetings blog-o-crats!

Once again. . .I know, it has been a while since I have posted. I do, however, very sincerly want to relaunch the blog. I am currently in the process of moving to a new apartment closer to downtown, and am looking to start up my blog again.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks for updates and a relaunch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Good news and the Bad News

I was reading the various news sites and blogs this morning, and came across a few good and one bad story.

The bad: Jason Logero announced officially that the Bean Counter has closed, but temporarily. Apparently the closure stems from a dispute with the owner of the Realty building, where The Bean Counter was located.

This is disappointing news, however, I am sure that Mr. Logero will find another location in downtown within the next year.

The good: The Rosetta Stone Cafe will be opening soon (I assume sometime in the new year, but perhaps sooner). RSC will include breakfast, lunch and dinner fare as well as an on-premise bakery.

The Vindicator ran a story about how much positive development is happenign in the city.

The former John R. Davis building (next to the Daught House) is in the process of rennovation as the headquarters for Ronald C. Faniro Architects Inc. In addition, construction of the Taft Technology Center is under way.

Plans are also in the works to demolish the Armed Forces and State Theater buildings, and to rennovate the Semple Building right next to the Home Savings and Loan Building as an additiona tech-based business building.

With all this good news downtown it's hard to believe that only a week ago the Vindy ran an article about Kelly Pavlik, and how that's one of the only good news stories comming out of the Valley!

Defend Youngstown wrote a fantastic editorial about all the good in the city, so I won't repeat his comments (link to the post is above).

I will, however, relate to you part of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about the city. We were disuccing the state of Youngstown, how it used to be when our parents were growing up etc. My friend commented about the Youngstown vs. Boardman debate, and how he genuinely never wants to go to Boardman.

"I go there because I have to, because that's where the retail is. I go to Youngstown because I want to. There's so much to do in the city, compared to Boardman."

These comments are so very true! Youngstown has so much to offer its citizens that the suburbs simply do not have. As soon as people realize that, that the Boardman is not the Mecca of the Mahoning Valley, we will all be able to move on.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In the Last Three Months

Ok, I know, it's been a long time since I last posted, however, such is the life of a grad student. Anywho, I'd like to chime in on recent elections/issues in the city.

In the election of November 6th the city charter amendment to give Mayor Jay final say on the Parks and Recreation Department passed. I say kudos to the citizens of Youngstown for realizing that the old guard needs to leave.

In addition, this week Mayor Jay recieved the John F. Kennedy Foundation's New Frontier Award.

I applaud Jay, and his trailblazing efforts in revitalizing the city, and his innovative way of managing it.

On the suburbs vs. city front, there has been a glimmer of progress made. Austintown agreed to allow a portion of the township to be annexed to the city so that BJ Allen Fireworks may build a new showroom.

This cooperation, while on a relatively small scale shows exactly how the city and surrounding suburbs can work together for the better of the Valley.

Along these lines, many have argued that the suburbas are doing so much better then the city. I argue, though, that the two have not cooperated for the past twenty-five years, and how well is the area doing as a whole?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Small Town That Could

I just spent the last five days at my grandmother's. She lives in a small-ish city called Troy, Ohio. Troy is the county seat of Miami County. While there I noticed how nice the city is, and how well a small city can do.

Troy is a city designed around a central square.

The city is very well designed, and surrounding neighborhoods very well kept. I've been to teh city many times before, and what always impresses me is how well maintained their downtown is. It has a movie theater, several resturants, and numerous mom-and-pop stores.

Here are numerous pictures of downtown:

Troy City Annex Building, I believe this used to be a hotel.

US Bank in Troy

Troy's Mayflower Theater (the brightly painted building)

In addition to the great architecture in the city there are also numerous planters around the central square. Signage is interestingly done as well. The historic district of Troy in and around the downtown has street signs that are white script lettering on a brown background.

Overall Troy is a great city with a nice small-town feel. Youngstown needs to emulate thish through walkability. Troy is amazingly walkable, and you can get virtually anywhere just by walking.

Troy, though more economically vital, did see a downturn in te 1970s. It hasn't been until recently that Troy had been revitalized.

In addition, Troy constantly has free events in its downtown. When I was there there was a public arts project tied in with the local airforce base. Throughout the downtown there were fiberglass airplanes that were painted by various local artists. Also, Troy has live music from time to time at the square.

Youngstown can be like Troy, and I look forward to the day when Youngstown is thriving again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mayor Jay's Blog

I recently found out that Mayor Jay Williams has started a blog. That's great! Anything to get good and honest dialouge going!

Here's the link:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NPR and Youngstown

Yes I know NPR has done a story about Youngstown, the 2010 plan etc, but I'm not going to post the link to the feed, mostly because everyone else within the Y-town blog community has it posted.

I will, however, applaud NPR for its even-handed approach to our city. They did, of course, mention our Rust Belt image, but emphasized the fact that the city plan we have is very unique. The plan will not be seen in its full fruition for many more years, perhaps not within my own lifetime, but the 2010 plan is laying the groundwork for future generations.

So many in the community have blasted Jay Williams for his ineffectiveness in fighting crime, in lack of jobs in the area etc. I would contend, however, that Mayor McKelvey and other administrations had virtually no plan for the city, at least not one like 2010.

In the end, will 2010 work? It will only work if we give it a chance.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Homesteading in Youngstown?

I am reading an article for my Geography class about this are of the U.S which the author has dubbed "The Foundry". The area includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and parts of West Virginia and Canada. There was an interesting passage about a housing/retail plan developed in Baltimore that I thought would be worth posting. Take a look. . . .could this work in Youngstown?

Bravery, as it happens, was the topic of discussion later in the day, as William Donald Schaefer toured his city in the long green Fleetwood with the license plates that simply said MAYOR. In addition to his driver, he traveled with Gary Mitchell, a double-knit aide who looked like an administrative assistant and sometimes functioned as one, but who really was there on special detachment from Baltimore's Tac Squad - the equivalent of a SWAT team. Formerly with the elite police helicopter branch, in which he had thrown spotlights into bleak alleys from the safety of the air, he now traveled with a .38 under his plaid-jacketed shoulder, and the knowledge that the mayor of a northeastern city wades into some fairly strange crowds.

Actually, the conversation was not about bravery per se. It was about windows.

In the Union Square neighborhood, where H. L. Mencken, "the sage of Baltimore," once lived, there is a "shopsteading" program. Shopsteading is a spin-off of Baltimore's "homesteading" plan. In northeastern urban homesteading, gutted aged town-houses, which are in no condition to support decent human life but whose sturdy brick walls are still so structurally sound that it seems a shame just to bulldoze them, are sold by the city for a dollar and some promises. The homesteaders who acquire these charming old shells, which today would cost a fortune to build from scratch, agree to fix the houses up - they frequently have to replace the plumbing and heating systems, the plaster, and sometimes even the roof - and then actually live in them for at least a few years.

The houses are available for a dollar because their previous owners have abandoned them - been scared off - and they've fallen into the hands of the city in a tax sale.

The deal, when it works right, usually boils down to this:

The city marks out a neighborhood that it thinks ripe for resuscitation. It attempts to stretch its overtaxed social services so that the entire neighborhood can be turned around by these home-steaders. It knows from bitter experience that only one or two rehabbed houses in a block won't do the trick. The whole block has to be attacked for critical social change to occur. So the designated neighborhood, at least in Baltimore, gets an extra dose of police protection, and the city code inspectors make a special effort to lean on property owners who are not bringing their places up to the new standards. Street fairs and ethnic festivals are encouraged, with the city providing bandstands and roping off streets to automobile traffic so that pedestrians can wander.

In exchange, a young couple with no chance of being able to afford a more conventional first home in a tight, spiraling real estate market, promise to invest their sweat, and possibly risk their personal safety, rehabilitating a row house in a tough, but presumably not hopeless, part of a city that suburbanites and people who have moved to Oregon have generally written off as irrevocably declining.

There is no question that the neighborhoods involved are tough. The edge of the rehabbed areas, where they fade off into hard-core slums, is commonly referred to as the "frontier." If the neighborhood once again becomes livable, and an adjacent area becomes newly attractive to homesteaders, the process is referred to as "pushing back the frontier." The nastier inhabitants on the wrong side of the frontier are called "the Indians."

Obviously, a certain number of these phrases are blatantly racist code words. But by no means is that the whole story. A good number of the people who get these $ 1.00 houses and fix them up are themselves black. Furthermore, since the people who homestead have committed themselves actually to living in these neighborhoods, they're betting their bodies that a pluralistic, northeastern urban society can be attractive, profitable, possible, and fun.