Is the River Revitalization Trend Skipping Youngstown?

City Terrain Midwest
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.

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