Valley planners taking steps to reverse tide of population decline

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The latest census data shows Mahoning County’s population fell by nearly 9,000 people over the last six years.

William D’Avignon, Youngstown director of community development and planning, isn’t shocked by the numbers. He said the city has been dealing with a population decline for 50 years.

“It really hasn’t changed how we are going about planning,” D’Avignon said.

Trumbull County has seen the worst decline in the area, and planners say it’s not going to get better any time soon.

“We need to start bringing people in or creating reasons for people to stay,” said Shane Burkholder, planner at the Trumbull County Planning Commission. “It is very hard to argue with the data about what needs done.”

Young people want mixed-use neighborhoods, with businesses, apartments, and entertainment in one place. Or they leave to find it. That’s just how the planning commission is re-imagining Youngstown’s downtown.

“What we are doing in downtown Youngstown is deliberate and intentional to bring back arts, entertainment, and government,” D’Avignon said.

Warren is a few steps behind in that process. Burkholder said there is no clear plan put in place, and that means the decline could keep getting worse moving forward.