By Tachieka Williams
In 2002, Jay Williams, Youngstown’s former community development director and former mayor, along with Youngstown State University and an urban development firm out of Toronto, Canada created a plan to set Youngstown on a path to fully realizing its downsize, embrace it and move forward with a positive outlook.
The plan, YT2010, took effect with an aggressive campaign to get the people of Youngstown excited and involved. It was plastered all over town on billboards, on television and in the newspaper. The plan even got national and international attention, receiving awards for being an innovative, enthusiastic and realistic plan.
Today, five years after the 2010 plan’s launch and few years since Youngstown lost its city chief planner Anthony Kobak, it seems as though the plan had lost its steam and fell by the wayside.
Thomas Finnerty, associate director of YSU’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies and the creator of the YT2010 plan’s land use plan, reassured Youngstown that is not the case.
“It’s the framework, rules and guidelines. It’s all working — it’s not one of those things that you’re going to drive down the street and say ‘hey, that’s a 2010 thing,’” Finnerty said.
Finnerty made it clear that the YT2010 plan is still very much alive today.
The plan receives an update every five years to ensure the city’s needs are fulfilled. An update to the plan will come this year.
Ian Beniston — executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, a group dedicated to the renovation and revitalizing of neighborhoods throughout Youngstown — said the group would not exist without the 2010 plan.
“The most important part that [YT2010] plays is the fact that we exist. I think the 2010 project if nothing else, it helped create momentum to see something like this exist,” Beniston said.
Beniston has worked with his group to restore areas like the city’s South Side Idora neighborhood.
One goal of the YT2010 plan was for each side of the city to have a plan to guide their growth. The YNDC is responsible for making sure every neighborhood that wants a plan receives one.
On March 17, the changes to these neighborhoods, along with a new plan to revitalize downtown, will be unveiled to the public from the framework of the YT2010 plan by the Economic Action Group.
Two aspects of the plan that Finnerty said the public should know is that the YT2010 plan did not get put on a shelf and that it’s still working.
“You don’t have to hear about it, but it’s working,” Finnerty said.