Neighborhoods or downtown? Youngstown council argues where to allocate money

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Is too much money being spent redeveloping downtown Youngstown at the expense of the main corridors and neighborhoods? Some on city council are saying yes.

They’re planning to withhold money to fix up two downtown streets which, if allocated, would mean virtually all of downtown will be new.

The city of Youngstown wants to redo E. Boardman and Walnut streets, hoping for them to resemble the recently finished Fifth Avenue project and to blend in with the rest of the renovations taking place downtown.

Council members Julius Oliver, 1st Ward, and Basia Adamczak, 7th Ward, are for it.

“To me, this is almost like the final hurrah. We might as well wrap everything up and finish,” Adamczak said.

“The better you make the infrastructure for downtown, the more you can invite businesses and residents into downtown to lay down anchors,” Oliver said.

“At this point and time, I’m not supporting the project,” said 5th Ward Councilwoman Lauren McNally.

McNally says she’s opposed to renovating Boardman and Walnut because it wasn’t part of the original plan to renovate downtown, saying it’s a bonus project.

“I want the administration to start thinking about applying for grants and coming up with projects that can move outside of downtown because we have something happening downtown right now on a very large scale,” McNally said.

The total cost of the project is $2.86 million — $1.3 million will come from a state grant and $300,000 from a federal grant. The remaining $1.26 million would be city money. It would be the city’s entire matching grant budget next year, and McNally is opposed to that.

“To me, that’s not fair. That’s not right,” McNally said.

Oliver says downtown is not just the central business district, it’s also a neighborhood — people live there.

“So as downtown develops more, I’m sure you’ll see more buildings being turned into condos or townhomes or what have you,” Oliver said.

Adamczak also said this will be the last time she approves money to be spent downtown. She too wants a comprehensive plan for the corridors and neighborhoods.

“We have done a great job bringing people into the city to visit, but now we have to find a reason for them to stay and that would be investing into our neighborhoods,” Adamczak said.

The application deadline for the state grant is Friday, December 17. The next council meeting is two days before that.

Councilwoman Anita Davis has said she’s against the project while Mike Ray says he’s for it. There’s at least the chance it won’t pass.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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