Youngstown begins permanently closing abandoned streets

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It has been one year since 27 Investigates reported on illegal dumping on Youngstown’s east side. Friday, WKBN discovered that the City of Youngstown is taking some permanent steps to solve the problem.

Much of Arthur Norwood’s neighborhood is empty.

“Streets are deteriorated. No houses back there now,” he said. “Guess it doesn’t make much sense to keep the streets open.”

This week, the city began blocking off some of those empty neighborhoods, closing four miles of roads. One of them is the street where Norwood grew up.

Still, he says, something had to be done to combat the dumping problem.

“I think it’s a good thing; I just miss those streets,” he said.

The Sharonline Decommission Project started in 2014 with the goal of returning 3.9 miles of abandoned roads to nature.

The area is named after a Youngstown-Sharon, Pennsylvania streetcar line that ran along Jacobs Road from 1900 to 1939. Now it’s a dumping ground and habitat for abandoned homes, which is just one of the reasons the city is ready to get rid of it.

While the streets were left open, piles of tires lined them. There is also a mound of construction debris, and the smell is a problem.

The roads are so bad that city plow trucks got stuck back there last winter.

Deputy Director of Public Works Charles Shasho said the problem is something that the city wants to keep from spreading.

“In an effort to realize we are a shrinking city and reduce our costs for maintaining our infrastructure, we decided to close them,” he said.

Youngstown Mayor John McNally said he expects trees to continue growing over the roads.

“I expect the roads to buckle up some more, and for lack of a better term, we’re just going to let it go,” he said.

The city isn’t giving up rights to the roads, so if some development does come along, the roads could be opened again.

The four miles of streets that are closing include those outlined in the map below:

Streets that the city of Youngstown is closing to turn back into green spaces.

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