The design of a landscaping project in downtown Youngstown is expected next month
By David Skolnick
A city committee is expected to decide next month what type of landscaping work will go in front of a downtown parking lot where the Paramount Theatre once stood.
The project is expected to be approved by the Design Review Committee at its Aug. 5 meeting and take about two to three weeks to complete. If that schedule is kept, it would allow the 24-spot parking lot to open in late August.
The DRC met Friday to discuss plans for the area that fronts the lot on West Federal Street near Hazel Street.
The city hired Executive Landscaping, a Vienna company, to do the work, selecting it over two other companies.
The base proposal of $14,911 includes concrete bricks, mulch, plants and installing a fence the city purchased for the 16-foot-by-65-foot area.
The proposal also included, at the suggestion of city officials, the possibility of two, metal, six-seat tables with umbrellas at a cost of $19,292.
But after seeing the price and the look, DRC members said they didn’t favor the tables.
“The tables look like they belong in Sea World or Cedar Point,” and not downtown, said Charles Shasho, a committee member and deputy director of the city’s public works department.
The other option is to install metal benches in the area. The benches cost about $1,100 to $1,500 each, said Lynn Hawley, Executive Landscaping’s operations manager.
But those also come with issues, Shasho said.
“We want them to be comfortable, but not too comfortable because we don’t want people sleeping on them,” he said.
The city has had problems with the homeless sleeping on downtown benches, he said.
“The whole idea is to have some landscaping, a place to sit down, read the paper and have a cup of coffee,” Shasho said. “It’s not a place to sit all day.”
Another issue is that the city kept large portions of the facade of the historic Paramount Theatre before it was demolished and wanted to use some of those materials in the landscaped front part of the parking lot.
“We’re going to incorporate it in some way, but haven’t decided how,” Shasho said. “If we put our heads together, we can do something.”
If nothing else works, the city would put a plaque on the site acknowledging that the theater used to be there.
The Paramount project has been plagued by delays. The work originally was to be done in September 2013, and then moved back another two months. But work to the lot project was delayed to the point it wasn’t paved and striped until about May.
The Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp., a downtown property development agency, was to start a 20-year lease for $100 a year on or before June 1 to operate the parking lot. The agency is ready, but can’t open the lot until the city’s landscaping work is done.