Youngstown CityScape’s 26th Annual Planting Day is ‘Under Construction’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – While construction work continues on downtown Youngstown streets, community members are preparing to put beauty back into the city.

About 50 community members gathered in the meeting room of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s recently renovated Main Library on Wick Avenue on Tuesday morning. The meeting kicked off Youngstown CityScape’s 26th annual planting day.

This year’s planting day will begin at 9 a.m. June 3 and feature a breakfast and lunch from Penguin City Brewing.

“CityScape builds on a firm foundation formed by decades of hard work and dedication, all stemming from StreetScape day,” said Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape. “That’s really the grassroots of everything we’ve done.”

About 20 people make up the Youngstown CityScape committee, Letson said. They are tasked with planning throughout the year.

“We have some new [flower] beds that are going up around Wick Park too,” she said. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Letson said about 800 people would attend the annual StreetScape event. Now it has dropped to about 650 people, she said. 

An anonymous donor gave $10,000 to the nonprofit for this year’s event. Letson said this money funds plant materials, staff members, physical work and hiring additional services such as landscapers and planners. 

“Long-term, it really helps to fund our sidewalk for this continuum of care for the plants and the [flower] bed for our downtown,” she said. 

In addition to the kickoff donation, Letson says they always try to raise a minimum of $45,000. 

She said there are several ways community members can get involved. 

“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.” 

Letson said the theme for this year’s StreetScape is “Under Constriction and Growing” – a positive nod to the construction downtown.

“Our businesses are still downtown,” she said. “They still need us to support them, and so it’s really a way for us to set the stage and encourage people to come to Youngstown as your summer’s destination.”

Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said there is something positive about construction. In visiting other cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, all you see is orange barrels, Brown said. 

“We have a new attitude in this community, and our attitude in this community is ‘under construction,'” he said. “It’s no longer ‘I.’ It’s ‘us.'”

“No matter where you are, we are under construction, but we are under construction in a positive way and moving in the right direction,” Brown added.

Scott Schulick, Youngstown CityScape board president and senior vice president/investments at Stifel, said now is the time to support the downtown area as the streets are filled with construction. 

“We understand that each building we take is a building block to a better tomorrow,” he said. 

Schulick said the kickoff event continues to grow every year. What used to be a meeting of about a half dozen people on a street corner downtown has grown to a room of about 50 people today. 

“We can’t wait to see you downtown on June 3,” he said. “We are going to work around those orange barrels and cones.”

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, which includes growing plants for CityScape projects.

“This is 26 years of building partnerships, friendships – and we are finally at a critical point where you can see that the effort, time and energy that’s been put in is paying out for all of us,” Letson said.

Donors and those wanting to sign up can visit Youngstown CityScape’s website. The first 500 to register will receive a free T-shirt.

Pictured at top: Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.