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tomcampion

Youngstown, OH: a rust belt city considering "smart decline" over "smart growth"

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I love Detroit. I love the culture. I love the architecture. Whenever I walk around downtown, I am in awe of beautiful buildings but feel a sense of isolation because so many of these structures are vacant. The city's identity used to involve strength, might, and industry, and one could argue the identity now involves history, remembrance, and ruins. How does a city cope with its changing identity? And what does it do about its built environment, which forms a large part of that identity? A city of 890,000 inhabitants with an infrastructure for 2,000,000 is in a tough situation, as it's next to impossible to return to previous population figures given the current state of affairs.

Although a considerably smaller city, Youngstown, Ohio, followed a similar course as Detroit with respect to industrial changes and mass out-migration. City planners there are now considering "smart decline" instead of smart growth."

"It's part of the American culture to think that growth is good and decline is bad. ... We're not managing growth. We're managing change," said Hunter Morrison, 58, director of Youngstown State University's Center For Urban and Regional Studies. "These cities need to have a future, and the future is going to be different than the past. That's why I think you really do have to turn grandma's picture to the wall and move on. You really do have to say, 'The city that I grew up in is gone.'"

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Did Detroit lose 300-400 thousand residents overnight recently?

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I can't find it, but I read once that our mayor said exactly what you're saying. He said detroit will never become the great metropolis it once was, but it can become a major american city with a population of 900,000 people.

This may sound foolish, but why doesn't the city sell off (or give) parts of it's land to the suburbs so they'll have much less to manage. The suburbs would be happy to turn those places around. Anyone else think we should dismantle the 8 mile dividing line, it's time to move on.

Also, as a region, we should strongly think about a metro government, something Grand Rapids is considering and other cities have done. This way we'll be forced to work better together, and solve our mass transit issue, cobo hall and others.

Being a Toronto fanatic, I know they have (or used to) that type of government system there.

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I dont think many suburban communities would take over parts of Detroit. The economy is too tough for most of these cities as it is. Adding more would not be a smart option at all.

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You're right, but if we ever did, it would happen quickly. City council would approve it without being embarassed or humiliated. Aren't they great.

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The problem with that idea is that the majority of the outer neighborhoods are in decent or good shape and are the ones who need "suburban-hand-outs" the least. It's the middle-ring neighboroods where "smart decline" would be needed. Besides I'm sure Detroit would be much better suited to handle declined neighborhoods than Ferndale or Hazel Park...

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Just read the artcile, and laugh at me if you like, but I'll throw out another idea in the "smart decline" discussion: what about some historical preservation? I'd assume that this idea has been undertaken somewhere, and of course on a small or manageable scale...

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A lot of the neighborhoods they are talking about have tract housing from the 1920's that have little historical value. Most of the historic neighborhoods never declined to such an extent.

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hudkina made a good point when he said that so many of the middle-ring neighborhoods are the most in need of help. The outer neighborhoods already tend to lean towards their adjancent sururbs and it's often hard to distinguish where city ends and suburb begins. On the other, Detroit's urban core, encompassing the CBD, Midtown, New Center, Corktown, etc. seems to be progressing at a steady rate.

Removing infrastructure in these middle-ring neighborhoods would leave us with a significant gap between the urban core and many of the outer, fundamentally strong neighborhoods. This gap could be filled with untamed, natural urban prairie but that would inevitably become crime and pollution ridden as the city has no funds to maintain such a space. I'm just not sure how to safely fill that void without furthering the inter-city and city-suburban rifts.

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hudkina made a good point when he said that so many of the middle-ring neighborhoods are the most in need of help. The outer neighborhoods already tend to lean towards their adjancent sururbs and it's often hard to distinguish where city ends and suburb begins. On the other, Detroit's urban core, encompassing the CBD, Midtown, New Center, Corktown, etc. seems to be progressing at a steady rate.

Removing infrastructure in these middle-ring neighborhoods would leave us with a significant gap between the urban core and many of the outer, fundamentally strong neighborhoods. This gap could be filled with untamed, natural urban prairie but that would inevitably become crime and pollution ridden as the city has no funds to maintain such a space. I'm just not sure how to safely fill that void without furthering the inter-city and city-suburban rifts.

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It is more than obvious that even small urban prairies that currently exist in the city attract dumping, dumping of everything from toxic waste to bodies. I don't how overgrown urban grasslands would be preferable to dilapidated neighborhoods.

I used to think about this alot, but the more I think about it, the more unviable the plan sounds. The city can't even afford to keep many of its parks regularly mowed. I can't even imagine what kind of dumping these grasslands would attract.

At the end of the day, like many plans, this sounds good...in theory.

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It is more than obvious that even small urban prairies that currently exist in the city attract dumping, dumping of everything from toxic waste to bodies. I don't how overgrown urban grasslands would be preferable to dilapidated neighborhoods.

I used to think about this alot, but the more I think about it, the more unviable the plan sounds. The city can't even afford to keep many of its parks regularly mowed. I can't even imagine what kind of dumping these grasslands would attract.

At the end of the day, like many plans, this sounds good...in theory.

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Dumping is done by both individuals and businesses, but the large-scale dumping is done by businesses, and mostly suburban businesses because they know the city doesn't have the manpower or money to stop it, though, Kwame has made it quite clear that he's stepping up enforcement when they can catch these companies. I think he's already slapped some huge fines on a few that were caught.

I'm not really sure I understood your first paragraph, at all.

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