Our Towns

Youngstown Residents Invited to Green Infrastructure Workshops

March 7, 2018

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Fresh Coast Communities and The Colony Youngstown are hosting over a dozen workshops from March to July across Youngstown to educate residents about nature-based approaches to manage stormwater, called “green infrastructure” and gather community input to prioritize designs and location.

The public input will inform Fresh Coast’s city-wide green infrastructure development plans which will be presented to Youngstown City Council for selection and approval later in 2018.

“We want to make sure these plans reflect the wisdom, vision, and priorities of Youngstown residents,” said April Mendez, president of Fresh Coast Communities. “We’ve been inspired by individuals stepping up to join our Youngstown Green Infrastructure Action Team and by the level of local engagement.”

Fresh Coast Communities is the nonprofit affiliate of Fresh Coast Capital seeks to help cities who are pursuing green stormwater infrastructure strategies.

Youngstown is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to decrease combined sewer overflows caused by rain and melting snow. These overflows send millions of gallons of polluted water to flow into Youngstown’s rivers and lakes each year.

Across the country and the world, cities are installing green infrastructure as a cost-effective way to capture and purify water where it falls to help prevent flooding and pollution and extend the useful life of aging wastewater infrastructure.

Beyond managing stormwater and preventing local flooding, green infrastructure beautifies neighborhoods, generates long term jobs, creates safer communities, and improves public health.

In August 2017, Youngstown City Council approved a Fresh Coast proposal to develop a city-wide green infrastructure plan that prioritizes opportunities for community revitalization.

Keland Logan, executive director of The Colony Youngstown, who has been actively engaging residents in green infrastructure education since October 2017 called the initiative, “a vehicle for empowering people to accomplish something that isn’t just landscape changing, [but] life changing.”

In 2017 Logan developed a campaign slogan, #GreenIsGoodYoungstown, which has become a rallying cry for green infrastructure awareness, appearing on social media platforms, sweatshirts, rally towels, and postcards, and soon buildings and fences around Youngstown through a planned “Tag the Town” campaign.

The workshops and additional community engagement efforts are supported by grants from The Raymond John Wean Foundation, The Youngstown Foundation, and Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

“In order to make this initiative successful, different perspectives, experiences and ideas need to be incorporated. It’s essential that community members participate and we encourage everyone to share their vision for healthier, more vibrant neighborhoods,” said Casey Krell, director of supporting organizations and donor services at Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

Involvement of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., Youngstown’s Stormwater Committee and a variety of additional organizations demonstrate how diverse organizations’ missions converged around this project because of the opportunity to blend social, economic and environmental benefits in a single solution.

The first three workshops will take place from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. tomorrow at the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church; from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at Michael Kusalaba Branch Library; and from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Choffin Career and Technical Center.

Fresh Coast Communities and The Colony Youngstown will also be speaking about green infrastructure at Urban Scholars’ Leadership Lunch series from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information visit the Youngstown Green Infrastructure Facebook page, where the full workshop schedule and registration are posted.

Community members can also contact Laura Wood at 330 779 1530 or lauraw@freshcoastcapital.com for more information.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.