Rust Belt Community Adopts 'Smart Decline' Strategy

The City of Youngstown, Ohio has decided to give up on reviving its industrial era population, and set about the process of shrinking the city down to a size more in line with its economy.

"After decades of fighting a vacuum created by industrial decline, Youngstown officials have decided to embrace it. Rather than fret over 'smart growth,' they've adopted a concept some call 'smart decline.'

The Youngstown 2010 plan exhibits many of the basics of a modern-day master plan. It envisions the city as a rezoned hub for regional business, encourages the creation of more green space, and invites people to help direct redevelopment. But it also recommends cutting the oversized infrastructure planners say makes Youngstown look like 'a size-40 man wearing a size-60 suit.'

'There are too many abandoned properties and too many underutilized sites,' Youngstown 2010's vision statement reads. 'Many difficult choices will have to be made as Youngstown recreates itself as a sustainable mid-sized city.'

Some of those choices could erase parts of Youngstown. Officials have talked about demolishing vacant homes in the city's least populated areas and tearing up the accompanying roads, water lines and power cables. These abandoned blocks could become parks or be allowed to return to the fields on which the city was built."

Full Story: Extreme makeover: City edition

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