YSUscape does work in Wick Park area


By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK

news@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

YSUscape recently cleaned up 10 houses in the Wick Park neighborhood, but that’s not enough for them.

Saturday, Youngstown State University students came together once again to work on properties in that area. The group of about 70 worked on 19 homes.

YSUscape was formed nearly two years ago and works to unite university and citywide organizations to revitalize and beautify Youngstown through various projects. Members are committed to the revitalization of not only the YSU campus, but the city of Youngstown.

YSUscape targets the worst-looking homes in the highly trafficked areas of the Wick Park neighborhood on the city’s North Side, said Nick Chretien, YSUscape president.

“So if people are going to pass by it a lot, we want to clean it up,” he said.

The goal is to make the neighborhood safer and welcoming to current and future YSU students and potential businesses, Chretien said.

By cleaning up the exterior of the homes and boarding them up, they’re preventing theft of copper piping and other items, he said.

Often, he added, a home might be empty but in livable condition. If the windows are broken and the copper piping stolen, though, it could cost more to fix than the house is worth.

“So, you’re saving homes in some instances by doing it, too,” he said.

The student organization received a $2,100 Neighborhood Success Grant from the Raymond John Wean Foundation for the project. This helped buy supplies such as rakes, shovels, gloves and garbage bags. The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and YSU’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies partnered with the group for the project.

Emily Lampe, 18, a YSU student from Mineral Ridge, helped for the first time.

“I’m really interested in keeping this neighborhood clean because it’s really important to me as a local to see my city thrive,” she said.

Though the freshman commutes from home she sees the work that needs to be done in the Wick Park area.

She said tackling 19 homes in one day is a big project.

“But I definitely think we can handle it,” she said.

Erynn Ruf, 18, of Ashtabula signed up to help as part of Global Day of Service for the YSU Honors College.

The project “kind of interested me,” she said.

She volunteered in high school, but has never cleaned and boarded up of homes. She jumped right in, though, grabbing a large pair of clippers and getting to work.

Ruf said it’s important to clean up the area around the campus to make it safer for students.

YSUscape plans to continue cleaning up the Wick Park neighborhood. They have started Blight Club. During the school year, on Saturdays of away football games, they will clean up homes then find a location to watch the football game.

“So we’re just trying to get students involved in the community and then watch some football to have some fun after,” Chretien said.

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