Youngstown 2010 Plan

Chapter 2: Planning Process

Youngstown 2010 is the City’s first citywide planning process in over fifty years. This process is nothing short of a paradigm shift. Former knee jerk reactions to events outside of the City’s control have failed. A proactive approach toward the future is the last chance for sustainability, perhaps even survival. To be proactive involves a clear vision of what the future can be and a road map towards that end.

This planning process supplies both a Vision and a Plan that will give direction to Youngstown through 2010 and provide the foundation for a future beyond that point.

Th e City of Youngstown and Youngstown State University (YSU) came together in a unique and inspiring ‘town-and-gown’ union. YSU was in the process of rethinking and updating its Campus Plan while the City was about to embark on the first review of its Comprehensive Plan since 1974. It was clear to both that these initiatives could not be undertaken in isolation. It was even more evident that the planning process could only proceed if both entities worked together to meaningfully engage the community in a way that would help reverse the City’s pattern of cynicism and pessimism.

The Visioning Process

Youngstown 2010 began as a community engagement and civic education process meant to gain public participation but also educate people about the importance of planning. With the assistance of consultants – Urban Strategies, Inc. of Toronto, Ontario – the community engagement and civic education process occurred over a seven-month period in 2002. It involved a series of workshops with over 200 community leaders – representing neighborhoods, local governments, non-profit agencies, business groups, religious groups, trade unions, educational institutions and the media. Initial workshops were held where opinions and ideas about the future of Youngstown were shared. A new Vision for the City emerged, through discussions among a diverse group of community leaders on the salient issues. A dozen workshops in all; structured as a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) with a final thought from each participant. The Vision became a guide for defining common ideals about the future and identifying matters to be addressed through further planning and implementation. Having built and shaped a new Vision, the community leaders had a considerable stake in overseeing its success. They became the voice for Youngstown 2010 and initiated a new public discourse. Beyond the formal workshops, many discussions took place in church basements, high school and university classrooms and community-group meetings. The evolving Vision took center stage in the local media and among elected officials as the community became thoroughly engaged in the planning process and excited about the possibilities it held. The community engagement and civic education process culminated in a public meeting on December 16, 2002 where 1,400 people (in a city of 82,000) attended. One of the great successes of that night was the number of people who made a personal commitment to volunteer their time; nearly 100 people left their contact information to get involved. Attendees left the auditorium with a new level of optimism and interest in planning for the future of their community.

Youngstown's Vision

The Youngstown 2010 Vision is a guiding document that sets out a framework for understanding and addressing the issues that Youngstown faces. It provides a community-based agenda for change organized around platforms: