YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Work to re-beautify lots in some parts of Mahoning and Trumbull Counties is now getting more attention.
The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) recently received a $5 million grant from the USDA Forest Service to plant thousands of trees in the Youngstown and Warren areas over the next five years. For several years, efforts to plant trees in empty lots were done whenever funds were available, but the work is now getting a significant boost.
Lola Lewis with the Mahoning Valley Tree Corps says they’ll be planting 120 trees around Youngstown next week working with both YNDC and the Mahoning County Landbank to help beautify spots where abandoned homes once stood.
“It’s a very important effort to put things back into the environment,” said Lewis. “One of the ways of doing that is putting trees and stuff.”
Ian Beniston, executive director at YNDC, says it’s all about beautifying green spaces.
“We heard about dead trees needing to be removed,” said Beniston. “We heard about wanting to add trees to green spaces to parks, so that’s what this is all about.”
“It went from just cutting grass to starting to plant some trees,” said Deb Flora of the Mahoning County Land Bank. “To put fencing around it to make it look meaningful and purposeful and cared for.”
Besides the improved appearance, supporters say efforts like this provide an emotional component as well.
“It changes how they feel about different things,” said Lewis. “When students are studying, they’re more relaxed up under the tree when there’s shade because it produces a healing environment.”
Beyond planting in empty lots, organizers say they will also add trees in neighborhoods where older ones need to be replaced.