LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – A backhoe has become a fixture along the Mahoning River in Lowellville — first to take the dam out and now to build what will become Lowellville Riverfront Park.
“It’ll be all concrete coming up,” said Lowellville Mayor Jim Iudiciani.
Friday afternoon, Iudiciani led us toward the Mahoning River, where one day soon people will be entering and exiting with their canoes and kayaks. The wooden frame being built will be a series of steps.
“It’d just be nice. You can sit here with a chair, fish, make it easy to walk up the ramp,” he said.
A large piece of precast concrete leading from the river is already in place as is the curbing. Up the hill and away from the river, restrooms are being built and a large graded area will be a parking lot. A sign has gone up showing where the Lowellville dam once stood.
“From Youngstown to here it’s a three-hour kayak trip. From here to New Castle it’s three hours. There’s already two or three companies doing those excursions — dropping them off, picking them up, bringing them back. So we see this as our stimulus for economic development,” Iudiciani said.
The village of Lowellville also owns 13 acres along the river, north of the park.
“We hope to put a park in there, about a $700,000 venture. Put a walking trail and frisbee golf and fish cutting tables and some pavilions and maybe someday a community center,” Iudiciani said.
Removing the dam and building the ramp and restrooms cost $2.65 million, with just over $200,000 coming from the village.
Iudiciani grew up within an easy walking distance from the river. When he looks at it today, he’s amazed.
“We weren’t allowed to play in this river because in the ’60s, I was born in ’61, but early ’70s this river was polluted. It had big foam coming down it. It was orange, it was red and we weren’t allowed,” Iudiciani said.
The park is expected to be done in time for a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. on December 3.
Iudiciani also said that at a village council meeting on Wednesday, he plans to ask for the police and fire levies that were defeated on Tuesday to be placed back on the May primary ballot.
Lowellville School Superintendent Geno Thomas says the future of the school levy that was also defeated will be discussed at a meeting Nov. 16.
Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly reported that the meeting was Nov. 15. It is Nov. 16.