Is the River Revitalization Trend Skipping Youngstown?

City Terrain, Midwest
Monday, September 23, 2013
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A view from the banks of the Mahoning River from the grounds of the B&O Station in Youngstown. (Jack Pearce / Flickr)

A view from the banks of the Mahoning River from the grounds of the B&O Station in Youngstown. (Jack Pearce / Flickr)

Across the country cities are revamping formerly industrial riverfronts. Plans are underway for Philadelphia’s Schuylkill, the Mississippi in Minneapolis, Town Branch in Lexington, and in downtown Chicago to reclaim urban rivers for mutual goals of ecology and urbanism. That hasn’t yet caught on in Youngstown, Ohio.

Sean Posey takes a look at the situation along Youngstown’s Mahoning River for Rust Wire. In northeast Ohio, where the twin legacies of sprawl and industrial decline have constrained economic growth, there are of course budget issues. But as state and federal dollars fund environmental remediation projects along the Mahoning, Posey sees an opportunity:

“Water bodies are prime physical assets for cities. In a report entitled Restoring Prosperity to Ohio’s Cities, the Brookings Institute called for creating statewide “Walkable Waterfronts” initiatives in Ohio. The report mentions Youngstown specifically… If at all feasible, creative uses for recreation and economic development should be considered for the downtown riverfront.”

The nearby city of Warren has set an example with paths for pedestrian and cyclists, as well as a concert venue along the river. Meanwhile, he says, Youngstown has proposed parking lots. Remediation is a critical first step, but cleaning up the river itself is only the beginning.

 

2 Responses to “Is the River Revitalization Trend Skipping Youngstown?”

  1. Phillip Boran says:

    What evidence do you have that makes you think that Youngstown area is being skipped in the river revitalization trend? I feel it’s necessary to look at the topography of which the river sits on as well as accessibility to infrastructure. It’s fair to say in the past the river has been forgotten but I don’t think people are forgetting about it today.

  2. Meredith McKenzie says:

    The author misses a lot of baseline river revitalization efforts along the Mahoning River in Youngstown because it often takes several years for urban river planning to be visible to the public. My Cal Poly Pomona graduate student urban planning design studio has created river’s edge sustainability plans both for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation and the City of Warren. Local leaders are drawing on these and other designs as they look to how best achieve riverfront revitalization and accessibility. In addition, the Friends of the Mahoning River hosts an annual River Festival on the riverfront in Youngstown as well as a number of other vital river centric activities.

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