Our Towns

More Volunteers Allow Streetscape to Widen Its Focus

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Those who planned, oversaw and participated in Streetscape 2017, the city’s annual spruce-up, fix-up and cleanup, pronounced themselves thrilled with the results Saturday.

Downtown, North Side and West Side neighborhoods have been renewed with weeded flowerbeds, flowers planted and mulch spread, in addition to the litter cleaned up.

More than 800 took part Saturday morning, the 20th annual planting day that continues to attract more volunteers and funding, reported Phil Kidd, associate director of Youngstown CityScape.

Participants undertook projects at 50 sites throughout the greater downtown – the focus of the initiative since its start — as well as in neighborhoods on the North and West sides as the event widened its focus.

Among the volunteers were more than 600 who registered beforehand and some 200 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership students who worked around the Youngstown State University campus and Wick and Crandall parks.

“The event went exceptionally well,” Kidd said. “The logistical planning for over 50 locations and management of hundreds of volunteers can be quite a challenge. But our planning committee makes sure everything runs as smoothly as possible when the community shows up on planting day.”

Several members of the Streetscape committee have been involved since the first event, experience Kidd described as “invaluable,” given how the effort has grown, he added.

Among the volunteers was David Jones, owner of Chisel Me Timbers and chairman of the board at Fireline Inc., which his parents founded. Fireline partnered with other companies on Andrews Avenue to clean up the industrial corridor.

When he moved back here in 2014, Jones said, he was looking for opportunities to volunteer, and Kidd recommended Streetscape. Such opportunities provide a way to give back to the community, he remarked.

“There were approximately 25 of us picking up trash, clearing brush, trimming overgrowth, cutting grass and other activities,” Jones said. “Many hands make for lighter work.”

Streetscape has become a family tradition for Ellie Platt, owner of Platt Insurance & Financial, and her son, Jake. Platt has participated several times since 1997, she said, and the Platts have taken part each of the last four years.

Platt participates because she believes in the work Youngstown CityScape does, she said. And she wants her son to learn the importance of service and being part of a cause bigger than himself.

“It was awesome to see so many people coming together to make our city better,” Platt said. “There was definitely a sense of community and excitement in the area.”

John Slanina, senior content manager with FactSet Research Systems, worked in the Rocky Ridge neighborhood on the West Side. Volunteers prepared and planted in 30 pots and beds along Mahoning Avenue, mulched and cleaned around the neighborhood welcome signs, and painted the shed and reinforced the “drive-up herb garden” at the Rocky Ledge community garden, he said.

Downtown Youngstown should be the cultural and economic hub of the region, Slanina said. “I love working on projects that promote that hub and make it a better place to live and work. “I also get the added benefit of seeing the flowers and other plantings through the seasons as I walk downtown every day. And it’s good to feel you are a small part of something making an impact.”

Slanina has participated in CityScape a decade, he said. When he began, he drove back from Columbus, where he worked at the time. Today, he said. “There is a crew of Youngstowners that come in every year from Pittsburgh and Cleveland too. So it was great to catch up with them.”

Pictured at top: Volunteers from Northwood Realty Services included Robin Whitehair, Marlin Palich, Catherine Kinik and Joey Sabatine.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.