City, school leaders praise improved sidewalks to Taft
By Amanda Tonoli
Youngstown city and schools leaders applauded the improved paths to school – specifically around Taft Elementary – a week before school starts.
The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., city of Youngstown, city school district, Taft School Area Block Watch and the Taft Promise Neighborhood coalition unveiled upgraded sidewalks Tuesday morning.
Although it may seem like something small, school district CEO Krish Mohip said the message is big: “Placing importance on our students.”
Mohip said he was “excited to see community come together and provide resources children need.”
“What this – to me – shows is that we have an entire community standing behind our children saying, ‘We can do better, and we will do better,’” he said.
Tara Walker-Pollock, Success After 6 manager, shared Mohip’s excitement about district improvements.
“This is just one more improvement to help our children,” she said.
Tanisha McMullen, Success After 6 coordinator at Taft, mirrored their sentiment.
“It’s going to be a new year with a new opportunity for the children to be safe,” she said. “Before, there were so many cracks in the sidewalks, and now we don’t have to worry about them falling and tripping on holes.”
Youngstown police officer Phil Skowron said he appreciates the safety aspect Safe Routes to Schools provides.
“It’s just good the kids don’t have to be walking on the street, and have good sidewalks to walk on,” he said.
The infrastructure improvements, including new sidewalks, curb ramps and a bicycle rack, were funded by a grant to the city from the Ohio Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School program. The city was awarded $200,000 in 2015.
The improvements are part of the Safe Routes to School program, which seeks to build safer environments and encourage more students to walk and bicycle to school.
Taft was selected because it has the highest percentage of students who walk to school of any school in the district. Funding has been secured for similar improvements around Harding, Williamson and McGuffey Elementary schools.