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Ohio State students try to infuse youth into an aging Enon village

City and regional planning students will travel to Enon, Ohio, to get feedback on a development plan valued at $70,000 to $90,000 they are creating for the village.
On Nov. 15, students in lecturer Kimberly Burton’s city and regional planning studio class will carpool to the village in Western Ohio and speak with residents about the plan.
“They are working on a comprehensive 15-year plan going forward. They had one in 1995 and obviously they need another one,” said Brendan McIntyre, a fourth-year in city and regional planning who is in the studio class.
Enon, situated between Dayton and Springfield, Ohio, has an aging community. Jerry Crane, a councilman and former mayor of the village, said young people rarely come to Enon because of the lack of jobs or entertainment for them.
“In 2027, if that trend doesn’t change, we’ll end up a retirement community,” Crane said.  
The best way to remedy that is to attract young people to the community, Crane said. Burton’s studio is helping make that happen.  
Burton said students are looking at all the services the government might provide its people in Enon and are making suggestions on how the decision-makers in the community might use the services to best attract young people.  
The public meetings, like the one the students will attend on Nov. 15, are important because they give the community an opportunity to tell the students their thoughts on the future of Enon.
“We don’t write them in a vacuum,” Burton said. “We get everybody, from little kids, to middle-aged people, to older people, to give us their input so we make sure it is a plan that fits them.”
Enon residents want the village to remain a village as young people move in, McIntyre said. The studio class’ plan reflects that public desire in its natural environment section, which makes room for farming and green space.
“One of the things the natural environment section is looking at doing is kind of establishing an agricultural trust … which is annexing this farmland that surrounds Enon,” McIntyre said.
Annexing the land and keeping it as farmland will prevent the village from being developed into something else.
Students in Burton’s studio have also researched different grants and tax incentives that can help finance the development of the village.
Burton said the total value of her studio’s written outline ranged between $70,000 and $90,000.
“They’re getting some free work out (of) us,” Burton said with a smile.
The students’ free work does not go unappreciated in Enon, either.
Crane added the students’ contributions are important because “we are getting a new perspective of living from seniors in college.”
The students are rewarded with appreciation in Enon, but McIntyre said city and regional planning students are required to take two studio classes in order to graduate with the degree.
However, in the case of this studio class, there were other incentives for the students. As part of the class’ outreach, they had a booth at Enon’s annual Apple Butter Festival Oct. 13 and 14.
Devin Carothers, a fourth-year in city and regional planning, purchased some apple butter during the festival.
“I bought two jars of it,” Carothers said. “I’ve almost killed all of it.”

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