New city comprehensive plan unveiled Tuesday
STEUBENVILLE – Local businessman Mark Nelson was pleased with his first look at the city’s first new comprehensive plan since 1964.
“It was very exciting. This is the first step for our community and will allow us to make changes in Steubenville and become the city we want it to be,” Nelson said after he joined approximately 30 other local residents for a 90-minute briefing on the new plan.
“We have been working on this plan for the past two years,” said Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi.
The city currently uses a comprehensive plan that was written in 1964.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission laid the groundwork in for the new plan in January 2011 when the panel was asked to review the preliminary steps that would lead to the new plan.
First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto called the draft, “a good plan on paper, but the problem will be implementing the plan.
“Everyone will have to look at the financing and cooperation from property owners and landlords. We are here to change the view of the city. We have a violence perception and we must change that,” said DiLoreto.
Petrossi said the comprehensive plan will include issues regarding, “land use, housing, transportation, a central business district, community facilities, utilities, health and human services, economic development, recreation and open space, conservation and environmental resources and capital improvements.
“We started with a series of meetings with 53 local stakeholders who represented health care, businesses, schools, social services, churches as well as other organizations in the city. It was the consensus of the stakeholders that the 1964 plan is in need of updating and now is a good time to start the work,” explained Petrossi.
Petrossi said the new comprehensive plan, “will also provide a foundation for zoning ordinances and a basis for a capital improvement plan and will also identify a community vision for the future of the city.”
Craig Gossman of MKSK said creating the new comprehensive plan, “has been a very unique process.
“We are now looking for final imput. The comprehensive plan is very similar to a business plan. But this is a public-private partnership. I anticipate the plan will become shelf worn within the next 10 to 15 years and it will need to be updated on a regular basis. The city will use the final document in future years to make plans for the community,” said Gossman.
“The 70s were the high point of Steubenville’s population. So now we are trying to make a sustainable city plan and to look for people who have moved away to return to Steubenville. From a planning standpoint, downtown is where the city started but the downtown is not centrally located like many other communities,” noted Gossman.
Gossman said the proposed plan also touched on promoting a healthy lifestyle in Steubenville and the need to reinvent the first ring of neighborhoods, including the downtown and hilltop areas.
“We also want to celebrate Steubenville’s history and culture and enhance the community connectivity and mobility. We also want to leverage Steubenville’s natural resources and environmental qualities and promote partnerships. This plan has to be driven by the private sector,” said Gossman.
According to Brad Strader of LSL Planning, the city has more commercial property than you need with your population. You will need to look at re-purposing some of the commercial property.”
“Our plan calls for viewing streets as a public space and not just a car space. I also think the one-way streets should become two-way streets. And, Sunset Boulevard should be beautified,” said Strader.
Nancy Recchie of Benjamin D. Rickey Historic preservation consultants said the community is blessed with a really neat history.
“I am recommending a stated purpose for the city owned historical properties. The city needs to set the bar a little higher for city owned property. I am also suggesting the city encourage downtown property owners to view their historic properties as assets worthy of investment,” Recchie declared.
Petrossi said he will post the comprehensive draft plan on the city’s website for additional review.