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Group: Increase safety at Wick Park

Published: Fri, July 29, 2011 @ 12:06 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Those who live near Wick Park on the city’s North Side say steps must be taken to make the location safer — particularly in light of a recent sexual assault there.

The July 6 sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman reduced some of the progress made at the park to make it safer and more inviting, said Gary Davenport, president of the Wick Park Neighborhood Association.

“We’re trying to take our neighborhood back,” he said.

Officials with the association spoke Thursday with the city’s park and recreation commission about a number of proposals to help.

Immediately after news of the assault, the association checked the lights at the 34-acre park and found that 29 of about 65 of its light poles didn’t have working bulbs, said Davenport.

After contacting First-Energy, most were repaired quickly, adding a lot more light to the park, he said.

“Light is the best deterrent against criminal activity,” Davenport said. “Give those who would sell drugs or assault our neighbors fewer places to hide. Our 34-acre forest should be a beacon of light in the neighborhood, not a series of murky shadows and dark places.”

The light fixtures at the park use 100-watt bulbs. The association wants to replace them with 150-watt bulbs to increase the amount of light at the park.

City park and recreation commission members said they would contact First-Energy to determine the cost of switching bulbs, and see if it is affordable.

“As far as the lighting, we can’t guarantee what will happen” because of the cost, said Denise Skowron, the commission’s chairwoman.

The association also wants increased security patrols at the park.

The commission hires a company to provide security at the park from 3:30 to 9 p.m. every day, and until 11:30 p.m. when a party takes place there, said Darlene Tubbs, the commission’s executive secretary. Also, those who have parties at the park are required to pay for the services of a Mahoning County deputy sheriff during those events, Tubbs said.

The private security also is supplemented by Youngstown police patrols, she said.

Security needs to be more visible at the park, Davenport said.

A security officer was at the park when the sexual assault occurred but said he didn’t hear anything, Tubbs said.

The woman told officers she was walking home when she was grabbed from behind, punched in the face and forced to the ground by a man. The man covered the woman’s mouth and fondled her under her clothes, according to a police report. The woman bit the attacker, forcing him to let her mouth go, the report states. The woman then screamed, and the attacker ran away.

Commission members agreed that an increased security presence is needed at the park in coordination with city police and the Youngstown State University police forces.

The association also requested concrete poles and chains be installed at the two vehicular entrances to the park to be used at night. Blocking vehicular traffic at dark would reduce illicit activities at the park, Davenport said.

Later at Thursday’s meeting, after the association’s members left, park officials said they’re concerned the poles and chains would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to gain access to the park.

The increased expenses might be covered by a $100,000 grant given by the Youngstown Foundation for improvements to the park, said Anthony Spano, a commission member.

Members of the commission and the association agreed to talk next month about improving safety at the park, which is bordered by Broadway, Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue and Elm Street.


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

Run video surveilance on all corners of the park . Get a digital record of all perps entering and leaving . More lighting is good but added video is better . ..

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2city_resident(528 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

carlstaatz, I think they said the same thing about German Village, in Columbus, and Tremont/Ohio City, in Cleveland.

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3RoddAC(102 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

@carlstaatz - I live within blocks of wick park and have never had an incident. So, wondering where you live? Must be other "ghettos" in the area. Check out the Wick Park Neighborhood Association and see the fine upstanding citizens who are actually doing something for this town and not just being worthless in their negativity. Pointless to even argue, I know it. Ignorance and negativity is more rampant than the violence. Too bad.

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4PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

Hey Carl:

I live around the park and have for the better part of 15 years. While there are still significant challenges, the neighborhood has seen significant improvement over the time I have lived here.

The Wick Park Neighborhood Association which is one of the most proactive neighborhood groups in the city (www.WickPark.org). In fact, our neighborhood group and other community organizations have been able to raise over $150,000 for the park / neighborhood in just the past two years. In that same period of time, we've seen over $12 million of private investment which has included a 115 person student dormitory, CVS store, Northeast Ohio's first Food Incubator and the purchase and renovation of over 12 significant structures for commercial or residential use.

Point: Change can happen (and does when you have people who care / get involved rather than complain).

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5Anonymouse(36 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

About time someone told the city what they need to do in Wick Park. Now the hard part is actually getting them to do it. Good work, neighborhood associations. I just hope you don't become disgruntled and bitter like the other fine citizens posting here.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

Anonymouse :

" I just hope you don't become disgruntled and bitter like the other fine citizens posting here."

If I was disgruntled and bitter I would have proposed a swat team with night goggles instead of surveilance cameras .

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7Anonymouse(36 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

That's one moderate example in a wall of vitriol that you are responsible for on these forums. With 8,247 posts coming at all times of day, I suspect that you're either retired or on disability. Either way I feel bad for you that the Vindy forums have that much prominence in your life.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

Anonymouse :

Due to a lack of intellectual capacity you strive to attack those who provide viable solutions . New nick I see . . ..

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

Proposed park renovation . . ..


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10MGShorrab(23 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

I've spent almost my entire adult life in this neighborhood. I can honestly say it's the best it's been in almost a decade. The efforts are working, it's just a matter of time and sweat now. At the very least, the decline in attention this side of town has received in the past 5 years is beginning to be reversed.YSU is buying up whole blocks, streets are being completely cleared of blight (ford's last two come down this summer.), and in my opinion, the people that live here aren't being passive about violence and crime anymore. The whole northside can't be saved, but I'll bet money that about 1/2 mile in ever direction of Wick Park could.

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11city_resident(528 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

carl, the first property is in foreclosure. If you take issue with its condition, complain to the slumlord who previously owned it, and/or the bank that is currently ignoring it. I suspect the story for the second property you linked to is similar.

The group home issue is also being addressed by the Wick Park Neighborhood Association.

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12DwightK(1537 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

The park is in good condition and I see lots of people using it.

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13taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

All areas in Youngstown have had nothing but crime and violence. The difference is this part is doing something to stop it, which is commendable. Lighting is definitely a deterent, and glad to hear the rest that Phil stated, showing the residents are fed up. The only reason other areas like the south side aren't improving is because too many people there are part of the problem. Keep fighting to get back your neighborhood!

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14taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 12 months ago

Phil- I know some are making it a mockery on Vindy about your sudden involvment in Youngstown and saying it's a prelude to you running for office, but I think Youngstown needs someone like you. You seem to keep up on what's happening, you get involved in helping and people seem to respect you. You need to run for Mayor and make a bigger difference. I think people would respond well if you did :o)

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