Economic Development

New Signs Urge Pedestrians to Discover the City

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As pedestrians venture downtown this week, they may notice a number of directional signs leading them to popular destinations the city has to offer. 

Phrases such as, “It’s a two-minute walk to put a ring on it at the county courthouse,” “It’s a six-minute walk to play b-ball or lift weights at the YMCA” and “It’s an 11-minute walk to grab supplies from the pharmacy” are featured on 60 signs in 30 downtown locations. 

“We have so much activity that’s happening here,” said Lisa Resnick, the organizer of the sign installation and real estate agent for Burgan Real Estate. “I want to make people more aware that they can come back to the city and make this their destination. Instead of going an hour and 15 minutes away, they can just go 15 minutes down the road and spend an entire day here with their family or friends.” 

Born in California and raised in Ohio, Resnick moved to the Washington D.C. metro area in 2004 to start her career in commercial real estate. Living and traveling to many cities, and discovering WalkYourCity.org inspired Resnick and others at Youngstown CityScape to launch the sign installation project. 

“When I moved back here, I realized that a lot of people don’t walk around their city as much as I’ve become accustomed to,” she said. “I decided to reach out to [first ward councilman] Julius Oliver who helped me get in front of the council as well as the economic committee to stimulate this entire project.” 

The signs can be found anywhere in the city whether it’s outside of the Covelli Centre or the DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown Youngstown, Resnick said.

They allow Youngstown visitors to be more aware of what is around them, and will have an impact on economic development and local businesses, Oliver said. 

“People walking around and supporting local businesses they didn’t know existed,” the councilman continued. “I think it will also bring more of a community feel having more people walking around, getting to know each other.” 

Bud’s Sign Shop in Youngstown made all 60 signs for the Walk Youngstown sign project, Resnick said. Funding was provided from YSUscape, CityScape and the Youngstown Rotary Club as well as from North Side neighborhoods, including Crandall and Wick Park.

“It’s important to have vision of many people rather than one organization or small group,” said Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape. “We think it’s important for people to understand all the treasures that are here in our downtown, and how walkable and beautiful our city is.” 

Twenty-five volunteers participated in the sign installation Friday. Other partners include the Healthy Community Partnership Mahoning Valley, Youngstown Flea and Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Resnick said this project was a team effort, which is an important mindset to share and advance growth. 

“It’s a creative, fun way to be able to get people to understand there are different areas here that are walkable,” she said. “Outside of the Covelli Centre, it could take you to West Federal Street. Outside of the DoubleTree, it could take you to the Butler Art museum.” 

Having these signs will not only provide easier ways to find downtown destinations, but will also provide a safer environment, Resnick said. One thing she has noticed is that people feel safer when there are more people out and about in any city. 

“I lived in D.C. and there’s definitely a lot of transitional neighborhoods that you will see tons of people walking on the street,” she said. “Just get out there and walk, and you’ll see all that I see.” 

Another benefit of having these signs in the city is to allow people, who are not local and staying downtown, to see what Youngstown has to offer, Resnick said. It is a pilot project, but it is not the end of revitalizing the city. 

“Hopefully we’ll keep growing and incorporating more signs as time goes on,” she said. “I would love to see it in other municipalities like Warren, Poland, Canfield, Boardman, Niles – you name it.”

Pictured: Julius T. Oliver, first ward councilman; Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape; Adam Lee, Youngstown CityScape; Sarah Lowry, director of the Healthy Community Partnership; Daniel Bancroft, president of YSUscape; Lisa Resnick, event organizer and real estate agent with Burgan Real Estate.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.