Treez Please, Lien Forward join V&M to beautify Brier Hill area
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
A group of community members donned gloves and grabbed shovels to help beautify the Brier Hill section of the city.
Volunteers from Zion Hill Baptist Church, St. Anthony Church and Youngstown State University joined workers from Treez Please and Lien Forward Ohio, coordinators of the project funded by V&M Star.
The one-acre area bordered by Oakland Avenue and Seneca and Superior streets once was filled with six vacant homes. At Saturday’s event, the workers planted hackberry and pine trees at either end to anchor the space left after the houses were demolished, while others spread wildflower seed in two large meadows.
“Over the winter everything will hibernate and then, come spring, hopefully, we’ll see a totally different look here,” said Debora Flora, Lien Forward executive director.
The city of Youngstown owns one of the properties. Lien Forward owns the other five.
“Our intent is that the city will own all of them once the major improvements have been made,” Flora said. “And we didn’t want to give something to the city that was going to require constant maintenance.”
The wildflower meadows will be self-sustaining, she said.
Planting the trees certifies Youngstown as a participant in Tree City USA. The Tree City program, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, provides direction, technical assistance, public attention and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs.
Being designated a Tree City “is a positive sign that the city is paying attention,” said Jean Engle, co-president of Treez Please.
Being part of the Tree City program will help get funding, Engle said.
“And it also raises our public image in a positive way,” she added.
Steve Henderson, a volunteer from Zion Hill Baptist Church and a North Side resident, helped plant trees.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We get the area kind of cleaned up, and people think something good about us on the North Side.
“It’s kind of fun to me,” he added. “I enjoy getting people together to come down and help.”
Terri Brincko and Michele Delsignore, YSU students, also enjoyed the work.
A requirement for a communications course they are taking is a project on how to improve something in Youngstown.
“We wanted to do [our project on] how to beautify Youngstown and help its image, because everybody thinks Youngstown is such a horrible place,” Brincko said.
They helped pick up trash and spread wildflower seeds.
The area will be beautiful when it’s done, Delsignore said.
“It was a really good experience,” she said. “I loved doing it.”