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Future remains up in the air for Idora Park site

Published: Fri, May 10, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

Church reiterates its $50M plans; lack of activity frustrates group


James London, president of Idora Neighborhood Association, wanted more details from church representatives on how they would fund a park property revitalization effort.




A public meeting of the Idora Neighborhood Association and representatives of Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church gave little insight into the future of the old Idora Park property.

Suffragan Bishop C. Shawn Tyson, pastor at Mount Calvary, reiterated Thursday night at the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley that the church plans to build a $50 million City of God with a nursing home, counseling center, gymnasium and worship facility. The church is focusing on the first phase, he said, which would include a 75,000-square-foot dream center.

Tyson expounded upon the dream center’s amenities but did not divulge funding information or offer a tentative groundbreaking date.

“We’ve heard this all before,” James London, president of Idora Neighborhood Association, told Tyson and other Mount Calvary representatives. “Nothing has been done since it’s been in the hands of the church, and it’s only gotten worse.”

Mount Calvary purchased the former amusement park property for $300,000 in 1985 before announcing its plan for a City of God. In 1989, the property went to a sheriff’s auction at which it was purchased by Consumer United Insurance for $205,000, which then listed the property with a local real-estate broker. The church purchased it again in 1994.

In 2010, the Ohio Department of Taxation denied Mount Calvary’s application for tax-exempt status on the property.

According to a 2011 lien search by Western Reserve Title & Escrow Inc., the old park property carried nearly $1 million in liens. Tyson would not comment on whether any of that had been paid.

Tyson, who has been the lead pastor at Mount Calvary since 2010 after Bishop Norman Wagner died, said the church is expanding its fundraising and debt liquidation efforts. He acknowledged the financial troubles the church has had.

“I am not here to repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Tyson. “We’re very sensitive to the concerns of the residents and the community around the park.”

Presley Gillespie, executive director of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., said getting the community involved is paramount to revitalizing the property. The church should look at Mill Creek MetroParks as a possible partner in the endeavor, he said.

“They have the knowledge and the background to manage space, especially green space,” Gillespie said during the meeting.

He noted that a recent study by Ohio State University graduate students showed that a partnership with Mill Creek would benefit the area and create additional revenue streams for revitalization. Gillespie said Mount Calvary officials have rejected proposed partnerships with the MetroParks in previous meetings.

“I think everyone would love for the property to be combined in some fashion to the park,” said London. “We want to make this work, but we have to stop playing games.”


1polhack(129 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Amen to joining this space with the Park. Despite their faith, the church folks haven't done a lick to improve the drain this property is on the tax base and the quality of the neighborhood. Turn it into a welcome center for the park with secured parking and continuous trolley tours the length and width of the park. It could even turn enough money to pay for itself while reducing the traffic load and the repairs/maintenance they necessitate for Park roads.

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2TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

This is one of the most ridiculous stories ever published and one of the biggest frauds ever carried out on the residents of Youngstown. "We are going to build a zillion dollar City of God".-No plans were shared as to how they would reach the zillion. They should focus on simply beautifying the area around their church just like St. Patrick's has. That would be a reasonable goal.. They should make sure their church collections don't fund 1/2 a million dollar homes in Canfield for their Pastor.. They should be held accountable for the multiple code violations the property in adjoining the Park-Charlatans, Charlatans.

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3republicanRick(1741 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The real failure here are the Youngstown politicians and Mahoning County commissioners. They are the oversight body for regulation. The church has had the property for almost 30 years and has let it decay. Enough is enough. Youngstown residents should be up in arms and demand action.

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4DwightK(1537 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The easiest way to stop repeating the mistakes of the past is to do something different. Just some free advice.

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5Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

What a bunch of BULL. This will never happen. How can people be so gullible! Sell the property already...or donate it.....

Brad Smith (Chaney, Missouri, Jets and now Bills (signed a 4 year $15 million contract in 2011 with the Bills) was named as a "contributor". Hope they don't con him and his money.

Yea, Toy, just ONE more ride on the "Wildcat", how nice would that be.....

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6thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

There are three wells on the property. Two gas, one oil and gas. Where have the royaltys gone to since 1985?

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