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Youngstown councilwoman reverses opinion on road improvement project

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A proposal to redo two downtown Youngstown streets may not be dead after all. A discussion at a meeting on Monday may have swayed the one vote needed for passage.

The final vote will come on Wednesday but for now, it looks as if E. Boardman and Walnut streets will be refinished to blend in with the rest of the work done, planned or in the process downtown.

At a meeting last Wednesday, councilwoman Lauren McNally said she was not in support of a project to redo the two streets. But after Monday evening’s city council meeting, McNally now says she supports the project, which should give it the majority votes necessary for passage.

“I definitely don’t want to be someone who is going to stop progress downtown or in any part of the city,” she said.

McNally’s original reason for voting against the project was that too much money was being spent downtown while the corridors and neighborhoods were being neglected.

In surveying how American Rescue Plan money should be spent, urban planner Hunter Morrison was hearing the same thing.

“Deal with the corridors, clean up the corridors. These are our front doors,” Morrison said.

Morrison provided a document outlining what’s being done to improve Youngstown’s seven major corridors.

“Belmont Avenue, the second most important commuting street in the city, key entrance into our hospital complex, we’ve been studying that,” he said.

He found that since 2014, Youngstown has spent $22 million in roadway improvements by using grant money through the Ohio Public Works Commission. Of that $22 million, $16.3 million has been spent in the neighborhoods.

“If downtown is the heart and the corridors are the arteries and the veins, if the heart isn’t healthy, we’re not pumping this economic development into the city,” said councilman Julius Oliver.

McNally wanted the discussion, and the discussion she got.

“I feel real comfortable with our plan downtown and need to feel as comfortable and stable now in the corridors. This has allowed us to create a jumping-off point for those conversations,” McNally said.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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