YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council held its first meeting of 2016 on Wednesday, and while council didn’t discuss the amphitheater project, both the mayor and the city’s economic development director say it is one of Youngstown’s biggest projects for the coming year.
Market Street heading into downtown is considered the “front door” of the city. But for years, the view hasn’t exactly been a grand entrance.
“As you come down the Market Street bridge, you need to have a welcoming view of a city,” Youngstown Mayor John McNally said.
McNally said it is his goal to transform the site of the old Wean United building near the Mahoning River. The city began work on the site when awarded a $1.2 million Clean Ohio Grant for cleanup. Those funds were used so the site is ready for new activity
“We’re looking at that being for recreational use,” said Youngstown’s Economic Development Director T. Sharon Woodberry.
She said the city is looking at creating a park and walking trails in that area. And on the other side of the bridge, they plan to put an amphitheater next to the Covelli Centre.
The city has already entered into an agreement with architecture firm MKSK of Columbus, and preliminary discussions and concepts are underway. Within the next month, leaders say they will be able to specify the budget and timeline for the project.
“We haven’t really built on the fact that there is a river that runs through downtown,” Woodberry said. “So we’re looking at that to be riverfront, opening up downtown and making it more aesthetically pleasing.”
The city hopes that by improving downtown’s riverfront, they will make downtown more of an overall destination for families, the goal being to bring more business to the shops.
“Well, any type of attraction we can bring to downtown Youngstown would be great for the whole city. It would be great to get everybody in the community out, outdoors and having a good time together,” said Councilman Julius Oliver.
City leaders say they will have more specifics later this month, including how much the project will cost and when it will be ready. They say this is just the first phase of a much larger riverfront project downtown — one that could stretch all the way north to Mill Creek Park.