YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Finding better ways to connect Youngstown State University with the downtown has been talked about for 30 years, and soon, there will be a plan.
Currently, the best way for pedestrians to get from Youngstown State to downtown are the 63 steps from Wood Street to Commerce Street. The steps end at the One Hot Cookie store, which relies heavily on YSU.
“I would say it’s between 65 and 75 percent of our business,” said store Manager Elizabeth Koontz.
In an effort to better link the university with downtown, 75 senior students in Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design are working to improve Phelps and Hazel streets on YSU’s campus. They are focusing on these areas because they are the most direct routes to the Covelli Centre.
They will also be looking at the area between Wick and Fifth avenues.
“From campus to Covelli” — YSU’s Vice President of Research Mike Hripko uses those three words as the focus of the project. But, once the project is done, where will the money come from to implement the plans?
“It becomes basically a halfway point for a developer to say that, ‘I can take it from here, and I’ll execute the plan,’ so it’s a very important part of the process,” Hripko said.
“Do we have the money to implement the plans? That’s a good question. That’s the $1 million question, if you will,” said NYO Property Group CEO Dominic Marchionda.
Marchionda owns eight buildings downtown and two around campus. He has a vested interest in linking YSU with the downtown and is thrilled the Kent students are involved.
Specifically, he said improvements are needed in pathways and lighting.
“I think the landscaping could be much better,” he said. “I think the means of transportation have to improve on an ongoing basis, but the kids want to be down here, we know that. I think it’s just about making things more convenient for them.”
Back at One Hot Cookie, Manager Elizabeth Koontz had one suggestion.
“Maybe to open more student-friendly things downtown. Do more student discounts, do more festivals, more music kind of things, just to get more students down here. Especially for the ones who can’t go out to the bar and drink,” she said.
Kent State’s architecture program has done this project in other communities before. It does not costing the university anything, and it is a way to help the students get some hands-on experience.