There's nothing sexy about shrinkage. That's why starry-eyed Midwest politicians continue to ignore reality -- that their once-booming cities are getting smaller fast -- and propose one big development project after the other. But Youngstown, led by 36-year-old Mayor Jay Williams, has embraced its new, thinner self, creating a long-term plan that focuses not on filling space, but on using it wisely. Those empty lots? Don't rebuild, Youngstown says. Make a park. That abandoned school? Open a rec center. It seems obvious, but it's visionary: The plan, "Youngstown 2010," has been honored by the American Planning Association and hailed in The New York Times.
And it's left some people wishing Cleveland would follow the lead of, yes, Youngstown.