YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Park and Recreation Department has received $10.5 million to renovate parks in the city, and it is much needed.
The money comes from the $82 million in American Rescue Plan Funds that the city received during the pandemic.
“With the $10.5 million, it sounds like a lot of money, but really, that could go into really one or two parks. But I do believe what we’re doing now, to spread them out, will bring a really good foundation for our parks,” said Clemate Franklin, director of Parks and Recreation.
The park department oversees 45 properties in the city. Some of them are in better condition than others.
“We have lots of park properties, but over time, just because of a changing population and base of finances, things have been neglected over time… We have this one-time, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, how do we restore these parks to what a neighborhood actually needs?” said Mike Ray, fourth ward councilman.
Borts Field on the West Side of Youngstown is one that’s in need of a lot of repairs. The bleachers are outdated and falling apart, and the railings are rusted. Still, there is a lot of potential in the space.
“We had our first round of community input. We heard everything from a skate park, to walking trail, to dog park,” Ray said.
Over at John White Park on the East Side of Youngstown, there is functional playground equipment, but the benches, grills and fences are worn and decaying.
Crandall Park on the North Side has caution tape around one of the slides because of holes in it. Some of the swings are also broken.
“We will definitely see a lot of upgrades in the parks that the constituents would really like to see. As far as equipment, new slides, new swings, even potentially splash pads,” Franklin said.
Two council members have decided to add some extra funds to go above and beyond in two parks in their wards.
First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver says out of the $10.5 million, $500,000 has been designated to Falls Park in the first ward. But, he says that money goes quickly and he wants to give the residents the park they deserve.
So he’s adding $72,000 from his $2 million ARP funds to go toward the park.
“This park is gonna be totally redone. You’ll see some of the trees removed, you’ll see fencing go up, you’ll see walking paths get put in, and there’ll be a pavilion put in. This park has never had a pavilion. They’ll be a basketball court restored,” Oliver said.
Basia Adamczak, the seventh ward councilwoman, is also adding extra funds from her $2 million ARP money to redo Lynn Park.
Falls Park and Lynn Park in the seventh ward both have plans already. Bids for the work for both parks go out in June.
Franklin says they are still working to come up with plans for the rest of the parks and how to use all of the funding.
Oliver said Falls Park should hopefully be done before summer ends.