WARREN - City Council and the administration are being challenged to identify at least 10 meaningful projects for economic and community development and to provide six-month updates on their progress.
Council's Strategic Advisory Committee is suggesting the projects be put in writing and for the city to name specific people who will be held accountable in getting the work done.
"This is the right time due to the fact that different things are happening around us, including the shale boom in which a lot of people will be coming into the Warren area to work," said Ron Yancey, chairman of the committee.
"We are trying to make the city more appealing, so it is a place where people also will want to live. We don't want them to simply work here and move into one of our suburban communities," Yancey said.
The committee wants a commitment to the plan within 60 days.
Dennis Blank, a community activist, said requiring periodic progress reports will provide transparency.
Potential development idea for Warren, as proposed by the focus group:
Work with owners to rehabilitate sites such as the Packard Apartments, Robins Theater or Saker Mansion
Create an educational and medical district along East Market Street
Hire an outside marketing firm
The council-appointed group suggests the city commit at least $50,000 to hire an outside marketing firm to develop targeted programs.
It also suggests the city work with business and property owners in the rehabilitation of sites such as the Packard Apartment building, Robins Theater and Saker Mansion.
"Working with businesses and property owners may only require the city to support them in obtaining permits, seeking government grants and clearing away other obstacles," Councilman Greg Bartholomew, D-4th Ward, said.
The report also suggests creating a marketing and educational and medical district along East Market Street that will take advantage of Eastern Gateway being downtown, as well as the many doctor offices and Trumbull Memorial Hospital already located on East Market Street.
George Piscsalko, zoning and planning coordinator with the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, said the group wanted to provide ideas that could be accomplished.
"These ideas are not permanent," he said. "Others may be suggested. The goal is to encourage real discussion and spur development."
Mayor Doug Franklin said the administration supports many of the ideas and already has begun doing some of the items suggested.
"I like the idea of appointing people to specific task and receiving periodic reports," Franklin said. "We will work with them."
Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward, during a Community Development meeting, outlined a plan to get increased involvement of council members on economic development projects.
Saffold suggested that each council member select one project from categories such as crime and safety, neighborhood stabilization, economic incentives, downtown revitalization, shale, regionalization, residential blight and others.
Saffold said she will introduce an economic development speakers series beginning in January in which experts in varying disciplines will make presentations.
Instead of hiring an outside marketing firm, Saffold suggested the city hire a full-time economic development associate with grant writing skills.