Doug Oplinger, project manager for Your Voice Ohio, led the final in a series of community forums Monday in Springboro. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Photo: Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd

Springboro focuses on city center in final regional forum

The event at the Coffman YMCA followed Your Voice Ohio forums held in Dayton, Kettering, Lebanon and Trotwood. Participants left with optimistic feelings.

“Springboro is doing a really good job,” said Marie Belpulsi, a former city council member. “We need to keep our minds open, to be open to new ideas.”

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Belpulsi was among a small group of local residents who worked through a process developed for the forums and designed to make them think about how to improve their community.

Unlike residents of earlier sessions in less affluent areas, the Springboro group was less concerned with more basic needs, such as safety.

Drug problems, mental health access and affordable housing were also discussed during the two-hour forum.

“Their needs are high level,” said Doug Oplinger, project manager for Your Voice Ohio.

In the past two years the forums have included more than 1,200 Ohioans in more than 30 communities discussing issues like addiction and economic disparities. This round of community forums is intended to start conversations about community needs ahead of the November elections.

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Barb Gibson, a former member of the Springboro Planning Commission, said she was happy to learn affordable homes for senior citizens could be part of redevelopment of the city’s central crossroads.

The Wright Station redevelopment, anchored by the Springboro Performing Arts Center and a barbecue restaurant and microbrewery from Dayton-based Warped Wing, is the first phase in a 62-acre urban village district planned at the city’s central intersection, Ohio 73 and Ohio 741, Central Avenue and Main Street in Springboro.

“I learned something,” Gibson said. “I have hope I might find some elder housing in this community.”

The local Your Voice Ohio forums were sponsored by the Dayton Daily News, WHIO-TV, WYSO public radio and Soapbox Cincinnati.

In coming months, additional forums are expected to be held in Northeast Ohio.

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