By Sean Barron
Starting next spring, a community garden will take shape in an area of the city’s 7th Ward that was once known more for its blight than its beets.
But more than offering healthful foods for neighbors and others, the garden likely will provide sustenance for neighborhood unification, collaboration and cooperation — all ingredients for community sustainability, growth and revitalization.
“I love the neighborhood,” said Kim Tritt, who’s lived on Pointview Avenue about six years. “It’s a family environment, and we all know each other; we all talk to each other.”
She is spearheading the Pointview Children and Families Garden project, which, in addition to offering plenty of vegetables, will include teaching people ways to plant and preserve fresh foods.
Tritt and some of her neighbors were among the several dozen residents who attended Saturday’s 38th annual 7th Ward Citizens Coalition Community Picnic in Lynn Park on Lynn Street on the South Side.
The gathering was designed to bring together residents to celebrate recent successes in the area, noted Patricia Dougan, the coalition’s president.
Such achievements include obtaining a $15,000 Youngstown Foundation grant, much of which will be used to improve the Powerstown section. Calling that part of the ward “a tipping point,” Dougan explained that revitalization efforts will entail rehabilitating, boarding and selling certain homes and demolishing others.
In addition to being a major force behind the community garden, Tritt joined the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.’s Lots of Green 2.0, a contest that encourages people to work on neighborhood-improvement projects and strategies.
Accompanying Tritt at the picnic was her 10-year-old granddaughter, Maggie Tritt, and next-door neighbor Sarah Johnson.
“A lot of older people lived there then,” said Johnson, referring to when she moved to her Pointview residence almost 23 years ago. “There are more kids now and big families.”
Johnson, whose eight children range in age from 4 to 22, regularly attends neighborhood block-watch meetings. Her give-back efforts include taking some of her children on neighborhood cleanup projects, she said.
Thanking those who continue to partake of projects and services to better their neighborhoods was Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, who also awarded lapel pins to Tom Pipoli and Bob Gray.
Pipoli has been active with the Brownlee Woods Neighborhood Association and helped prepare Lynn Park for the picnic. Gray is working to revitalize Pemberton Park, Dougan said.
Attendees brought pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, casseroles, salads and other dishes, along with desserts such as cake and cookies.
The picnic also featured sack and three-legged races, a checkers tournament, a hula-hoop contest and plenty of fellowship. Members of the Youngstown Fire Department were on hand to provide a spray from a firetruck that allowed many of the youngsters to beat the heat and humidity.
Musical selections were played by Poland-based Seamus, a father-and-son acoustic-guitar duo.