Journal Opinion: From-the-Ground-Up Leadership

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A proposed legacy park at the east end of downtown Youngstown aims to reflect the area’s history and enhance activity there.

The park, which would be created on property that abuts the Valley Foods parking lot on East Boardman Street, is being advanced by the Junior League of the Mahoning Valley, which entered into a memorandum of understanding April 21 with the city to acquire the land.

 The site is across from the former Northeast Fabricators building that the Youngstown Flea took over. It’s near the vibrant mural that adorns the Andrews Avenue corridor, which was painted last year by Youngstown State University art students. And nearby on East Boardman Street is the former warehouse that Penguin City Brewing Co. is converting into a brewery, taproom, event space and hub for other businesses. Most recently, Cockeye BBQ, based in Warren, announced it would open its second restaurant and creamery at the brewery.

Bergen Giordani, Junior League president, credits Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick as the inspiration for the park project.

“The league has always been about improving the community,” says Giordani. “So this is a wonderful way, especially with the investments that are being made in the eastern district here, that we can play a small role in leaving a legacy in the city.”

Dellick, a long-time member of the Junior League, says the park would cost an estimated $75,000. It would comprise boxwood shrubs, flowers, a brick path and a permanent storyboard with the history of the district. An arborative screen would align with an aluminum fence that Valley Foods is installing at the edge of its parking area.

Architect Gregg Strollo, president and principal of Strollo Architects, is donating his services to the project, according to Dellick.

“He believes in improving our city because it’s a wonderful city,” she says.

Once this project is completed, the Mahoning Valley Junior League hopes to do similar pocket parks in Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

The Junior League project represents from-the-ground-up leadership that The Business Journal has advocated since its founding in 1984. Long gone are the days – if they ever existed – when the people of the Mahoning Valley could afford to wait for outside agents and agencies to take action.

It also reflects the mission of Junior League’s parent organization, the Association of Junior Leagues International, an organization of more than 150,000 women in four countries who have been dedicated to volunteerism for more than a century.

The league’s east end legacy park might not seem like a big deal. But this type of small, citizen-led redevelopment project demonstrates a revitalized community with strong local leadership.

We commend the Junior League of the Mahoning Valley for its efforts. Its project should inspire others to follow in its footsteps.