YOUNGSTOWN Schools to replace recreation areas

The school district will reinstall park equipment displaced by construction.
YOUNGSTOWN -- New and improved schools also mean needing more room.
That's why the school district needs five parcels occupied by city parks for its $163.5 million building project.
Three of the five parcels -- Harding Park, Taft and Sheridan playgrounds -- are owned by the district and leased to the city. New elementary schools are planned for the Harding and Taft sites. Sheridan school will be renovated.
The two other spots, Schenley Park and Victory Field, involve city-owned land the district needs for a new West Side elementary school at Schenley and a new high school at Victory.
Concern: City park board members asked what would happen to the recreation areas after construction. The parks department has spent several hundred thousand dollars in recent years on new equipment at playgrounds and parks. For example, the city recently installed $62,000 worth of new equipment at Taft.
Officials aren't yet sure what the building layouts will look like, said Anthony DeNiro Jr., executive director of school business affairs. The district, however, will restore recreation areas and reinstall equipment displaced by construction, he said.
"Our goal is to maintain as much as we can," DeNiro said.
The park board will have to talk with the state, which provided some of the money for such projects, said Joseph McRae, parks director. Also, city council would have to approve any changes on land it owns where there is a park or playground, he said.
Safety issues: More space also offers opportunities to fix problems such as bus safety, DeNiro said.
Some buses now pick up and drop off students at the street. Newly designed schools will let buses pull into the school campus.
Park board members didn't raise any objections to the proposed plans. Members asked, however, that school officials make a more detailed request for the land they need. The board said its needs that before it can recommend that council support the changes.
DeNiro said the district needs the board's support as soon as possible so architects can finalize drawings and stay on schedule for the fall 2002 construction start.
Other actions: Also Thursday, the board:
*Gave the North Side Citizens' Coalition approval to put up signs noting the area's historical district. One sign will be on the Fifth Avenue strip just south of Gypsy Lane and another in Wick Park near Fifth and Park avenues.
*Announced that during the first week city pools were open, Borts pool had 1,554 children and 361 adults and North pool had 1,468 children and 228 adults.

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