YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – While construction work continues on downtown Youngstown streets, community leaders are preparing to put beauty back into the city.
Youngstown CityScape announced March 21 that its 26th annual planting day will take place June 3 and feature a breakfast and lunch at Penguin City Brewing.
The theme is “Under Construction and Growing” – a positive nod to the street construction throughout downtown, said Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape.
“Our businesses are still downtown,” she said. “They still need us to support them. So it’s really a way for us to set the stage and encourage people to come to Youngstown as your summer destination.”
About 20 people make up the Youngstown CityScape committee. They are tasked throughout the year with planning the annual planting day.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Letson said about 800 volunteers would participate in the event. That number has dropped to about 650.
An anonymous donor gave $10,000 to the nonprofit to fund this year’s event. The donation pays for materials and hiring additional services such as landscapers and planners.
In addition to the kickoff donation, Letson says the organization always tries to raise a minimum of $45,000.
There are several ways community members can get involved in planting day, according to Letson.
“They can get involved by forming a team [or] they could get involved financially by supporting our work,” she said. “It’s a great way to support our downtown and be a part of our community.”
Referring to the planting day theme, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said there is something positive about street construction downtown. In visiting other cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, all one sees is orange barrels, Brown said.
“We have a new attitude in this community, and our attitude in this community is ‘under construction,’” he said. “No matter where you are, we are under construction, but we are under construction in a positive way and moving in the right direction.”
Scott Schulick, Youngstown CityScape board president, said now is the time to support the downtown area.
“We can’t wait to see you downtown on June 3,” he said. “We are going to work around those orange barrels and cones.”
Meantime, Youngstown CityScape continues to work on its $4.5 million capital campaign, Schulick said. The campaign, announced last year, is designed to make improvements to Wick Park and launch an initiative that includes growing plants for CityScape projects.
Pictured at top: Sharon Letson is the executive director of Youngstown CityScape.