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City seeks input on fracking in Youngstown parks

Published: Mon, November 19, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.



By Burton Speakman

and David Skolnick



The city doesn’t have plans to lease park land to companies for oil and gas drilling, but its parks and recreation commission will take comments from the public about the issue.

The commission is having the special meeting at 5 p.m Nov. 27 on the sixth floor of city hall. The deadline for residents to register to speak is 4 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone interested in addressing the commission must fill out a speaker form in the park office on the first floor of city hall.

“Some community members had concerns about fracking, but it won’t be done in our parks,” said Robert Burke, park and recreation director. “Our parks will be preserved.”

City council gave the board of control approval Oct. 17 to move ahead with a plan to solicit offers from companies to lease city-owned land for fracking. The proceeds are to be used for neighborhood improvement work, primarily demolitions.

If the city does proceed with the plan, it wouldn’t seek proposals until the middle of next year at the earliest.

“Right now, I wouldn’t be in favor of any fracking in parks,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone. “But if the city has the chance to make a zillion dollars, we’d have to re-evaluate.”

The meeting is an opportunity for residents to voice their opinions about their rights and beliefs about park lands, said Susie Beiersdorfer, a member of Frackfree Mahoning Valley.

Some members of the group plan on speaking to the commission and presenting information about actions other communities have taken to ban fracking.

“This is a very important issue for us,” she said. “We will certainly be there to protect our public lands.”

Fracking, a process that uses water, chemicals and sand to crack shale rock formations thousands of feet below the earth’s surface and extract natural gas and oil, has been an issue at other area parks.

People have been coming to Mill Creek MetroParks meetings to voice concerns, for example.

Mill Creek Park serves as an example of how modern techniques allow natural resources to be developed while minimizing any environmental footprint, said Daniel Alfaro, spokesman for Energy in Depth Ohio, an oil and gas industry group.

“We’ve been developing oil and natural gas in and around Ohio’s parks and forests for decades. Not only do these operations produce energy, they provide opportunity for these parks to gain much-needed revenue to help maintain them for all to enjoy,” he said. “It’s a natural resource helping a natural resource.”

Youngstown has more than 200 acres of parks including sports fields, John Chase Park, Stambaugh Golf Course and Wick Park among others.

Mill Creek MetroParks is a separate jurisdiction.

Also on the agenda are the future of the South Fieldhouse and the proposed master plan for the city park system.

The fieldhouse was closed by the city in 2010 because it was too expensive to operate, Burke said.

The Southside Academy school, located next to the fieldhouse, has expressed interest in taking control of the facility, Burke said.

The commission wants to hire a consultant to conduct a long-term plan for its 45 properties to maximize their use, Burke said.

Those interested in being hired have until Dec. 14 to submit proposals to the commission.

With the assistance of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., the commission is looking for grant money to offset the estimated $60,000 to $70,000 the study is estimated to cost.

“We clearly believe the park system is important to the city’s revitalization and helps impact the quality of life,” said Presley Gillespie, YNDC executive director. “We’ll help any way we can.”


1michael1757(490 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

There's enough eye sore's in this city without adding one in the few place's we CAN go for peace,& quite,to get our head's together,& enjoy natural beauty.Stay OUT of the park's!!!

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2James_S(268 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Drilling Vertical wells in the city (please, not the parks, thank you) with no high-pressure, toxic liquids to extract gas from the shale- YES.

Drilling horizontal fracking wells in the city (and in our parks) using high-pressure, toxic liquids to extract gas from the shale- NO Thank You...

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3glbtactivist(321 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Parks are preserved for the public to enjoy. They are not industrial zones. Hands off the parks and out of the city.

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4cambridge(4150 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

uticashill explained it perfectly....."Let me help the City since the brains drained a long time ago. It doesn't work that way. The energy companies need all the lands in Mahoning county because it sits on the wet gas zone."

gas and oil profits will trump city parks and valley residents every time and the fact that a stooge like uticashill gets to insult those residents lets them enjoy those profits all the more.

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5Attis(1134 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Mayor: "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil". Believe it, and break your monetary addiction which could very well sink Youngstown and our parks irrevocably; or just resign. Now.

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6willinnyny(121 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, go ahead. . . destroy the parks and the land and the water and the air.
Yeah, go ahead and cause more earth quakes in the Mahoning Valley.
Yeah go for it!
You frackers are nothing but greedy creeps and criminals hiding behind the title of "businessmen."
You're not fooling anyone.
You frackers disgust me!

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7whyyt(18 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Youngstown. Wake Up. Do not ruin the only good asset in the city, Mill Creek Park. Be educated. Do not drill. And don't drill in any city park either. Do you want this already ruined city to become another Love Canal? Between the vile "development" of downtown (poorly planned, cheesy developments, lack of understanding about taste, architecture, history, preservation, etc.), you cannot ruin what is the only remaining (and true!) gem in this otherwise not very pleasing city. Please. Wake up!!! Does no one give a damn about Youngstown and making it a tolerable, livable city that is NOT a joke? Come on, we can do better.

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