YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Eleven months ago, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio said no to running new power lines through downtown Youngstown. There would have been lines on large metal poles running behind the new amphitheater and Covelli Centre. On Tuesday, though, FirstEnergy unveiled new plans.
The new route for FirstEnergy’s power lines would be along East Woodland Avenue, across the Mahoning River from the Covelli Centre.
“We do, from a company standpoint, understand the impact that this may have on individuals,” said Troy Rhoades with FirstEnergy.
Rhoades was among those from FirstEnergy who on Tuesday unveiled the new route to the Public Utilities Committee of Youngstown City Council.
The proposed power lines would run from the Riverbend power station near downtown, along Interstate 680, along East Woodland Avenue, then Poland Avenue, after which, one of two routes are being considered: either across the Mahoning River, along Wilson Avenue and up into the East Side or continuing along Poland Avenue, crossing at the Center Street Bridge and up into the East Side.
“Our goal here in Youngtown is to try to improve things moving forward, especially aesthetically,” said Councilman Julius Oliver.
Oliver was especially concerned about the look of the lines. He just built a new house on East Woodland Avenue.
“Please, in your aesthetics, in your planning, in your bike paths, everything you have planned going on, please present your best in the respect of those residents and stakeholders involved,” Oliver said.
Council was told there would be no 150-foot metal towers being used, like in the original plans. All the poles would be traditional wooden ones.
There are also opportunities for recreational areas to be built.
“Dependent on the size of the structure and the ownership of those easement rights, for potentially walking paths or bike paths,” Rhoades said.
FirstEnergy plans to hold an open house — either later this month or next month — where residents can find out about the project on the proposed power line route.
Youngstown City Council has no say on the matter. It’s up to the Ohio Power Siting Board and eventually the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
If all goes as planned, the project should be finished by the end of 2025.