By Greg Gulas
Having just celebrated his one-year anniversary as Youngstown Parks and Recreation director, Bob Burke is now qualified to call the city’s parks some of the best in the area.
He added its Henry Stambaugh Golf Course, which will celebrate its 90th year of operation this summer, remains one of the most celebrated public treasures in the entire state.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches at their weekly Monday meeting, Burke noted that his first year was a learning year while he was able to get a first-hand look at the many properties for which his department is responsible.
“We’ve inventoried everything and now it is time for us to move forward,” Burke said. “ We’ve been working with John Bralich, research associate in YSU’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies on identifying our parks and their usage and must now decide which ones we should keep and ones with which we should part.
“I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the study and John’s efforts because it helps me identify their needs, as well as various other usages for our buildings and properties.”
Burke’s department oversees 43 properties; 34 of which are parks or playgrounds. A municipal golf course, North Side swimming pool, Baird’s Cemetery and several road medians are also among those afforded his daily attention.
“Our parks system was built 101 years ago for a population of 150,000 and some of those parks are now located where no houses exist,” Burke said. “Turning those areas into green spaces or looking to see if there is a community group wishing to assume control of that particular park area remains a distinct possibility.”
Events to help celebrate Henry Stambaugh Golf Course’s 90th anniversary are in the works with newly hired golf pro, Dave Boos, assuming his duties last Friday.
Burke’s office staff assists with daily programming, golf, summer day camps, its Arlington Heights Recreation Center, swimming pool and other various park programs.
Also last year they added Pitch, Hit and Throw at Pemberton Park. It’s a national program in which a local winner went on to win the national competition in his respective age group at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Kansas City.
Burke was responsible for starting a Bridge Club at Wick Park, a group that meets every Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. while he is exploring the possibility of expanding senior activities as well.
He also wants to bring back the Steel Valley Slow-Pitch Softball League; a one-time staple of the summer sandlot season.
Next week, patrolman Chris Collins of the Austintown Police Department will serve as guest speaker.