For nearly three years, kids on the city’s South Side in the Fosterville and Idora Park neighborhoods haven’t had a playground or city park.
But that will change in a few months with the transformation of an overgrown and muddy vacant parcel into Glenwood Community Park on Glenwood Avenue between Laclede and Sherwood avenues.
Work will start next week to turn the property into a park featuring a full asphalt basketball court, playground and pavilion.
The court and playground as well as excavating, fencing, grading and seeding will take about 30 to 45 days, said Robert Burke, the city’s park and recreation director. The pavilion and restroom facilities will be completed in about 75 days, he said.
The city sold land that housed Fosterville Park and the former Cleveland School, demolished in 2008, for $14,000 in 2010 for the construction of a 17,000-square-foot Bottom Dollar Food, the only full-service grocery store on the South Side. The new park is a short distance from the Bottom Dollar Food location.
“I’m excited for the kids in the neighborhood who’ll get to use this park,” Victoria Allen, a member of the city’s park and recreation commission, said while standing on the park property. “I went to the Cleveland School and played in Fosterville Park. I grew up on Laclede. It means a lot to me to know kids will have a place to go.”
It’s the first new park in the city since the Arlington Heights Recreation Center and Park opened in 2009.
John Spivey, another park and recreation commission member, said the Glenwood park will “enhance the quality of life of the children in the neighborhoods on Youngstown’s South Side. I’ve been a lifelong resident of Youngstown, and I’m excited about the changes being made in the city.”
The new park costs about $300,000. Bottom Dollar gave $30,000 and PNC Bank $20,000 for the project. The rest came from the city.
That includes $71,000 to remove gas tanks and clean up soil on the site that used to be a Sun Oil gas station for about 40 years, Burke said. It closed in the early 1970s.
“The nightmare was running into the gas tanks,” he said.
Property acquisition was about $20,500.
The city plans to purchase a property on Laclede at the rear of the park property, demolish a vacant house there and turn it into a parking lot, Burke said.
“It’s been a long haul and a tough road,” said Anthony Spano, chairman of the park and recreation commission. “But we worked together to build what will be a great park. It gives our youth a place to go and to stay active. If you work together, things can happen. We are able to bring a great resource to the community for the kids in this area. The park commission is looking at ways to spend the park money better and use it for the right purposes.”
The park and recreation commission paid $13,000 — with $5,000 from the city’s Community Development Agency — to Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies to provide data needed to evaluate the 45 properties owned by the commission.
The goal is to find out the best use of each property and how many park properties are needed. Results from YSU are expected next month.
Also, the commission will seek proposals from firms to develop a comprehensive plan for the city’s park system. But legislation approved by city council forbids the commission to enter into a contract without council’s approval.