Volunteer to plant some pride in heart of Mahoning Valley

A perennial rite of spring once again will blossom in downtown Youngstown and its environs come May 31. Then, hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers will plant more roots of pride in the heart of the Mahoning Valley as part of Youngstown CityScape’s 17th Annual Streetscape project.

The project, which last year attracted an army of 600 volunteer laborers and tens of thousands of dollars in donations, focuses on cleanup and beautification of the central business district and nearby locations.

The program has grown increasingly robust and valuable over the years. That’s why we encourage even greater participation in this spring’s event so that the city and the entire Valley can reap an even bigger bounty of tangible and aesthetic results.

Streetscape this year is nicknamed “We Canna! Canna You?” in honor of the late Dick Mills, who planted cannas, a tropical plant similar to a lily throughout downtown. The project kicked off its fundraising and volunteer recruitment phase last week with a ceremony at Fellows Riverside Gardens in Mill Creek Park.

As Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape, which oversees the Streetscape program, points out, “A more attractive downtown invites more businesses. The goal is to make the experience of visitors to downtown a good one.”

It’s likely no coincidence that the ongoing downtown beautification project has grown in tandem with the hubbub of new businesses, restaurants, apartment complexes and storefronts in the downtown area. That momentum must continue to mount.

After all, appearances count. The beauty of colorful fresh flower beds, meticulously manicured shrubbery, neatly trimmed grassy areas, litter-free sidewalks and other aesthetic accoutrements can play an important role in a businessman’s decision to locate a lucrative enterprise in the central city or to take his investment to greener pastures. The programs stands as a viable tool in which Valley residents can contribute individually to the progress made by the larger public and private sectors in revitalizing the downtown.

Streetscape also imbeds communitywide pride. Volunteers from throughout the Mahoning Valley have rolled up their sleeves over the past 16 years to plant, mulch, hoe, sweep, clear, polish, prune and in general enhance the overall appearance and quality of life in downtown Youngstown, which remains the heart and soul of our three-county metropolitan area of 566,000 people.


This year’s project from 8 a.m. to noon May 31 provides residents a perfect opportunity to build upon the successes that Streetscape already has cultivated.

There are two primary ways that you can help make this year’s project another resounding success. First, you can contribute to the CityScape treasury to purchase flowers, shrubs, mulch, and planting and cleaning equipment. With the help of businesses and community organizations, Streetscape has raised and spent more than $750,000 since 1998 to purchase landscaping materials.

Of course, civic-minded residents can also participate on the streets May 31. The greater the number of participants, the greater the positive impact on downtown aesthetics will be. In addition to downtown, other areas scheduled for beautification this year include Wick Park, the John Young Memorials, the gateway entrances to the central business district and the Smoky Hollow neighborhood.

In the spirit of this year’s Streetscape theme, you ‘canna’ make a difference. Register to participate or to donate at youngstowncityscape.com today.

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