YOUNGSTOWN – An ambitious proposed development and transportation project in which the Western Reserve Transit Authority is invested could dramatically transform the landscape of Market Street through Youngstown and most of Boardman.
“Market Street was built and developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” said Tim Rosenberger, project manager at WSP, a Cleveland-based engineering consulting firm.
WSP is working with the WRTA on a broad transit-focused development plan, which was discussed in detail at the first of two virtual neighborhood forums on Monday. The session aimed to gather feedback on what people want regarding improving bus service, directing and facilitating types of development and adjusting zoning regulations to promote additional economic activity on and in neighborhoods close to Market Street.
A TOD is a type of city plan and development plan that integrates and maximizes the amount of residential, commercial, and recreational space within walking distance of public transportation while creating compact mixed-use communities in these areas.
TODs have transformed neighborhoods in Cleveland and other regional cities, Rosenberger said, noting that the concept also aligns with the amount of Mahoning Avenue that has been built and developed.
“It is something that is increasingly common,” he added.
Some overall improvement ideas for Market Street include more frequent buses, zoning changes to make walking, cycling and using buses easier and safer, better sidewalks and crosswalks, and improved lighting.
Another proposal was to create a non-stop route between WRTA’s downtown station and St. Elizabeth Boardman’s Hospital on McClurg Road, about a mile south of Southern Park Mall. The move would eliminate the transfer to a second bus at the mall to get to the hospital, Rosenberger said.
The section near Market Street and Midlothian Boulevard, which separates Youngstown and Boardman, includes the Newport branch of the Youngstown and Mahoning County Public Library, a convenience store, and several fast food restaurants. Proposed additions and improvements include information kiosks, custom bus shelters and shared lanes for buses and bikes, as well as improvements to sidewalks and crosswalks, Rosenberger continued.
The long-term goals of the project are to attract new residents and jobs, extend these benefits to surrounding neighborhoods, and provide better connections to downtown Youngstown, Interstate 680, State University of Youngstown and the Mill Creek MetroParks, he noted.
The roughly 25 meeting attendees also broke into focus groups to discuss what they hope to see in the northern and southern portions of Market Street in Youngstown, as well as along the Boardman Corridor.
Ideas for the northern section near Pyatt Street, which includes the facilities and offices of the Community Corrections Association, were to build a park in the area and make more use of vacant lots and green spaces.
The southern part of the market that encompasses the Uptown area and Indianola Avenue to Midlothian Boulevard could benefit from mixed-use approaches, such as retail space, apartments and offices, an ancillary living center on the former owned Master’s Tuxedo, a full-service grocery store and condominiums.
The area “severely lacks healthcare choices, so we think it’s a very good site for that,” said WSP’s Tianyi Zhang.
Courtney Boyle, owner of the Environmental Collaborative of Ohio, community engagement manager for WSP, noted that Boardman has far fewer vacant lots than Youngstown, so its needs would be different from those of the city.
Proposals for this section included a grocery store – especially for those who would otherwise have to relocate to reach such businesses on U.S. Route 224. Additionally, the middle school in the center could be moved, which would open this parcel up for development, Boyle said.
Trails that would connect Mill Creek and Boardman parks are also in the planning stages, she added.