Collaboration Is Theme at Eastgate’s Annual Meeting

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Officials with the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and the Ohio Department of Transportation emphasized collaboration Monday at the annual meeting of the agency’s general policy board.

About 60 people attended the event in the Youngstown State University Community Room at the Covelli Centre. The theme was “Communities Working Together.”

“We’re looking at getting all the communities together,” said James Kinnick, Eastgate’s executive director. “Everybody’s got their challenges funding-wise, staff-wise. We want to try to start working together.”

As the regional planning agency, Eastgate emphasizes ignoring local boundaries, observed Kinnick, who recently took over as executive director following the retirement of John Getchey.

Among those offering updates to board members was John Picuri, planning and engineering administrator with ODOT District 4.

ODOT is collaborating “quite a bit” with local communities through what are referred to as utility agreements, Picuri said. “We’re sharing salt with several communities and, in turn, they are plowing some of our roadways.”

There was “quite a bit of collaboration,” he added, on the Interstate 680 and state Route 164 interchange project in terms of how it was funded with money from ODOT and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.

Collaboration is one of the three prongs of an asset management strategy that ODOT has adopted to preserve roadways and ultimately save money in the long run, Picuri continued. The other prongs are using technology to gather and assess information about road conditions and aggressive preservation treatments to maintain the roads.

“Instead of the old ‘worst first’ type of approach, where we actually just replaced the bridges and roadways based on their current condition, we’re looking to extend the lifespan of our bridges and our roads,” Picuri explained.

Among the initiatives Kinnick said he’ll pursue this year is finding Park-and-Ride sites on state Route 62 near I-80 in Trumbull County and on state Route 7 near the Ohio Turnpike interchange in Mahoning County.

The Austintown Park-and-Ride lot “is probably three-quarters filled on a daily basis so it’s a perfect venue, and hopefully we can have that much success at other sites,” he said.

Kinnick wants to hold an open house to “invite everybody to see what we do” and “showcase what Eastgate’s all about.” And he’s looking at holding pavement and safety workshops, the said.

Those attending the annual meeting heard from Youngstown State University president Jim Tressel and Troy and Aafke Loney, co-owners of the Youngstown Phantoms.

Among the stories Tressel shared came from an event he attended over the weekend, where a man was honored for giving 20% of his liver to someone he didn’t know.

“He said, ‘Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? If we have something that can make a difference in someone else’s live, isn’t that what you do?’ That was powerful,” Tressel said.

Troy Loney, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup teams, discussed his hockey career, which also included stints with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

Aafke Loney talked about Phantoms’ programs that donate street hockey equipment to schools and bring area students to watch a game and receive information on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Pictured: James Kinnick, executive director of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.