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Smoky Hollow revitalization plan taking shape



Published: Fri, October 8, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

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Martha Morgan, project manager at Wick Neighbors Inc., looks over Harrison Common, the first project in an overall plan to revitalize Youngstown’s Smoky Hollow neighborhood.

Smoky Hollow revitalization plan taking shape

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Brad Day, an employee of Tipton Landscaping of Salem, works in Harrison Common.

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

For years, the city’s Smoky Hollow neighborhood bustled with residents — men headed to factory jobs, mothers shopping and children playing on ballfields.

But like much of the city, the neighborhood declined as people moved out. Several years ago, Wick Neighbors Inc. embarked on a plan to revitalize the neighborhood.

Progress moved slowly at first as organizers formed partnerships and pursued funding, but now there’s a piece they can point to, showing the project is more than just a dream.

A brick-paved plaza adorned with plantings and pieces of sandstone to be used as benches sits on Walnut Street, across from the Youngstown State University parking deck. Harrison Common is on the site of the former Harrison Field, where children’s baseball leagues battled on the fields.

Installation of a pergola funded by the Youngstown Rotary, an old-style pizza oven and an herb garden also are part of phase one of the Harrison Common project.

“The idea is that people could come and have cookouts,” said Martha Morgan, project manager at Wick Neighbors.

Plat maps showing how the neighborhood was mapped out will be installed in the park, and old photographs highlighting its history also are planned.

Not all of the park’s features are new, though.

“We kept the linden tree,” Morgan said. “It’s such a beautiful tree, and it’s probably about 75 years old.”

The overall neighborhood plan calls for housing, but the park is a start.

“It’s only phase one, but it’s a beginning,” said David Vaughan, Wick Neighbors executive director.

Phase two of Harrison Common calls for work where the ballfields stood. Teams from YSU are expected to use the fields while the university relocates its facilities. After that, some paths may be installed, but the area will remain mostly natural, Morgan said.

The total plan calls for new streets, sidewalks, curbs and pedestrian pathways, new townhouses, condominiums and homes, commercial and retail space and 10 acres of public green space.

The project has secured $4 million in grants and city assistance to put in new infrastructure to support that development. Engineering for the neighborhood redevelopment project is under way.

“We’re cautiously optimistic and hoping for construction to start late next year,” Vaughan said.

The down economy has affected Wick Neighbors just like most of the rest of the country, but Vaughan is hopeful.

“I think the university partnership is showing some signs of life, and I think that will help considerably with further development,” he said.

YSU owns most of the land in Smoky Hollow, said Scott R. Schulick, chairman of the university trustees who also serves on the board of Wick Neighbors. The university received the $396,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that funded the Harrison Common work. Wick Neighbors did the work in securing the grant, Schulick said.

Smoky Hollow’s revitalization was spearheaded by Wick Neighbors and David Sweet, former YSU president. The revitalization is in university’s interest, too, Schulick acknowledged.

YSU employees will maintain the lawn within the park.


Comments

1nuganuech(46 comments)posted 4 years ago

That's a really nice story. Now the hood rats will have a clean, safe place to hang out in, before and after shooting and killing the elderly coming from church.

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2cscampbell(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

Living here would be a new way of thinking, but I know of several YSU employees who have said they would live here. Shopping will be a hindrance, but maybe some local shops will follow. We can't give up all hope on nice inner-city gentrification.

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3cscampbell(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

...and nuganuech must not be too familiar with YSU campus and surroundings, which is consistently rated the safest of all Ohio campuses. YSU is well-patrolled and inviting.

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4WarrenRicheyKid(167 comments)posted 4 years ago

I drove my 88-year-old dad to see the new Harrison Commons. This new improvement to his old neighborhood brought tears to his eyes. The proposed new housing and commercial district will go a long way toward the revitalization of Downtown.

It makes perfect sense my parish, St. John's Episcopal, is an active member of the community group dedicated to Smoky Hollow's revival. The new planned community will strengthen the surrounding area.

I was at the MVR Restaurant one evening this August. It was packed with patrons. All the bocce courts were filled. The Hollow has already begun its long awaited comeback.

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