Thursday, October 28, 2010

Youngstown 2010, A Model Plan For Shrinking Cities All Over The World?

The Youngstown 2010 Plan is a nationally and now internationally recognized plan that emphasizes the new concept of a shrinking city.  City of Youngstown Community Development Agency director William D'Avignon met with the Kanagawa Municipality Promotion Association Staff, which is made up of various Japanese city employees from various cities on Monday October 25th to discuss the Youngstown 2010 Plan.

Japan was once an industrial power house like the United States.  Now with much of the industrial jobs leaving Japan, as they did in the United States, they are beginning to face the same problems as United States cities such as Youngstown. Youngstown's population peaked around 1930 at about 170,000, and started to decline drastically in the 1970's with the closure of the steel mills.  Youngstown now has a population somewhere around 72,000 people.  One of the major problems with Youngstown is that it still has the infrastructure and services to provide for a city with twice the population.  Providing services to unpopulated areas of the city is costly, and the vacant infrastructure causes negative side effects such as criminal activity.

Having researched Youngstown the Kanagawa Municipality Promotion Association Staff wished to come visit Youngstown and ask Mr. D'Avignon questions regarding Youngstown's infamous shrinking city plan.  Questions inquiring about Youngstown's response to its drastic population decline, and what role non-profit organization play in the revitalization of the city.  The Youngstown 2010 Plan has become such an inspiration to the staff that it has actually been translated into Japanese.

Two Professors from RWTH Aachen University in Germany also came to visit Youngstown on Friday October 22nd during their month long voyage through old industrialized cities.  They also traveled to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Erie, and Buffalo.  Their purpose is to see how United States industrial cities are recovering from the collapse of industry.  Doctoral students and professors Cyryl Garus and Martin Pudlik plan on bringing a group of planners back sometime in the near future to further research Youngstown and some of its old industrial neighbors.  This would be to gain insight to bring back to Germany for possible applications on their older industrialized cities.

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