Streetscape planting day planned for June 4

By David Skolnick


The organizers of the city’s Streetscape planting day say the event does more than beautify downtown and the surrounding areas.

“We really believe that what we do makes a difference for our city in terms of economic development and [reducing] crime,” said Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape, which oversees the Streetscape program. “Besides putting a smile on your face, it can bring in new business.”

An attractive downtown filled with flowers and trees makes people want to go there — a main goal of the Streetscape program, she said.

The city’s 14th annual Streetscape planting day is 8 a.m. to noon June 4.

About 400 volunteers will trim and plant flowers, shrubs and trees as well as remove garbage primarily in the city’s downtown area that day. Other locations include Wick Park on the North Side, Youngstown State University and the city’s gateways.

“Visually, when you walk into downtown, you get a warm feeling about the city, the people and the whole atmosphere,” said Pete Asimakopoulos, president of the Streetscape committee and an executive with First National Bank. “It’s pleasing to the eye.”

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, a Streetscape committee member, said: “Years ago, we had a bunch of paper flying around and weeds downtown. [The Streetscape program] has a big impact on people downtown.”

Streetscape kicked off its fund-raising and volunteer-recruitment drive Friday.

The organization doesn’t have a fund-raising goal, Letson and Asimakopoulos said. During its first 13 years, Streetscape has raised $500,000.

Also, the Youngstown Foundation will contribute an additional 5 percent of any donation of at least $100 to CityScape for this effort.

Focus areas for Streetscape are East and West Federal streets, the John Young Memorial, the Police Memorial, the Choffin hillside near the YMCA, city hall and Wick Park.

YSU, the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority and neighborhood and faith-based organizations are among those handling cleanup efforts in other areas of the city June 4.

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