Youngstown Plans For A Smaller Future
"Youngstown, Ohio, has seen its population shrink by more than half over the past 40 years, leaving behind huge swaths of empty homes, streets and neighborhoods.
Now, in a radical move, the city - which has suffered since the steel industry left town and jobs dried up - is bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces. More than 1,000 structures have been demolished so far.
Under the initiative, dubbed Plan 2010, city officials are also monitoring thinly-populated blocks. When only one or two occupied homes remain, the city offers incentives - up to $50,000 in grants - for those home owners to move, so that the entire area can be razed. The city will save by cutting back on services like garbage pick-ups and street lighting in deserted areas.
Today, downtown is positively sleepy and even somewhat derelict. Residents have to drive out of town to shop for clothes or housewares. And while foreclosures have long been a scourge in this city, they have recently skyrocketed along with the rest of the country, up 178% in February from a year ago.
Youngstown's infrastructure-paring strategy may yet become a model for other Rust-Belt cities that must recreate themselves after years of decline. Already, delegations from smaller, post-industrial cities like Flint, Mich.; Wheeling, W.Va.; and Dayton, Ohio, have come to Youngstown to study the plan."