Redevelopment, Interest in Boardman Is from Smart Business Decisions

BOARDMAN, Ohio — It’s no secret or surprise the amount of construction that has been going on in Boardman Township over the last couple of years.

The work being completed is more redevelopment rather than developing a new concept on parcels throughout the township, said Krista Beniston, director of planning and development in Boardman.

“A lot of development in the township really is going on existing sites that are pavement,” Beniston said. When those spaces get redeveloped, there’s landscaping added, creating a curb appeal and underground water retention systems to improve flooding.

She spoke Wednesday morning during Good Morning, Boardman! held by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber at The Bunker in DeBartolo Commons.

Some of the larger redevelopment projects the township has seen in recent years include DeBartolo Commons at the Southern Park Mall, the emergency department expansion at Akron Children’s Hospital and the expansion at Sweeney Chevrolet.

The space where Kmart once stood on U.S. Route 224 has also been redeveloped, with the addition of a plaza. 

That type of redevelopment is what the township is encouraging, Beniston said. “All the different storefronts” and new green spaces are places residents and visitors “actually want to go,” she said.

Trustee Larry Moliterno reflected on the last 12 years he and fellow commissioners Brad Calhoun and Tom Costello have worked together, and now the projects from that time are happening.

Some of those projects include the creation of the ABC Water and Stormwater District, which addresses flood issues, as well as a new fire station on Market Street and the upcoming Market Street water retention park, he said.

New development in the township included the construction of Meijer on Route 224 and Lockwood Boulevard earlier this year, Beniston noted. Going forward, the Mahoning Valley can expect to see Swenson’s, which recently announced interest in the land where Niccolini’s was previously located, along with The Hot Dog Shoppe located across from the Boardman Plaza, she said.

There are even more projects in the pipeline, Moliterno said, but they’ll be announced by mall owner and management company Washington Prime Group.

Businesses are showing continued interest in Boardman Township “because smart people know where to do business,” he said. “They want to do business in a strong, thriving community.”

Going in hand with attracting businesses is dissecting the township through zoning codes.

Using data from the 2020 census, the zoning department has been working to update measures throughout the township as the data becomes available, Beniston said. The township is also looking at different corridors in Boardman, including the WRTA project for Market Street heading toward Youngstown as well as the Glenwood corridor.

Work has been ongoing behind-the-scenes for the zoning department, Beniston said. Zoning codes are in the process of being updated. Much of the content was from 1948, when Boardman Township zoning codes were created, she said.

Many codes needed clarification, while others needed to be brought to the 21st century, she said. Zoning codes are crucial to help keep the township evolving.

“It says what you can put on a property, where it can go,” Beniston said, adding that codes enhance property and protect each parcel.

The zoning department has taken a look at properties on Market Street, which tend to be smaller, and is cataloging each space.

Going east along U.S. Route 224 to Interstate 680, parcels range in size and types of usage, Beniston said. Housing codes and terminology are also being updated with the help of census data. The zoning department is looking to define in present-day what is a “family-size” dwelling compared to decades ago.

Also giving an update on the Boardman Local Schools District was Superintendent Tim Saxton.

Saxton discussed the $10 million in Cares Act funding that went to reinvesting in the district rather than starting new programs that will cost the district – and taxpayers – money down the road.

“The challenge is, you can’t create legacy costs,” he said, adding the goal was to plan uses for “sunset costs,” or spending money that wouldn’t rely on further funding when the state and federal relief ran out.

The district bought personal protection equipment including Plexiglas dividers and hired additional substitute teachers for one to two years, he said. Infrastructure and HVAC updates were made to ensure fresh air circulation.

Decisions made within Boardman Township are made with residents in mind, each speaker said.

“Everything we do is about making Boardman not just a nice place to call home, but a great place to live,” Moliterno said.

Pictured: Presenting during the Good Morning, Boardman breakfast were Boardman Schools Superintendent Tim Saxton, Township Trustee Larry Moliterno, and Director of Planning and Development Krista Beniston.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.