East Side residents turn out to clean up park area today


YOUNGSTOWN

A mere matter of hours was all that was needed to transform a long-abandoned walkway from an overgrown, trash-strewn eyesore to an area that promises to be a green oasis.

“This is something that had to be done; it couldn’t stay like this. This was unacceptable,” said Victoria Valentin, referring to the condition of a quarter-mile walking path through Lincoln Park that was nearly invisible because of the amount of garbage and debris covering it.

Instead of simply complaining about the neglect, Valentin, who lives near the East Side park, was happy to get her hands dirty by being part of today’s community-wide effort to clean, beautify and improve the path and surrounding areas.

Greatly aiding in the seven-hour cleanup was a $20,000 Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful Community Partner grant. Much of the funding also will be used to add new fencing to one side of the paved walking path, along with lighting, cameras, dog-waste stations, trash receptacles, entrance gates and benches, noted Jennifer Jones, program coordinator for Green Youngstown, which spearheaded the cleanup.

Those additions are slated for mid-October, she said.

Even though the road was closed years ago to discourage illegal dumping, such activity continued because dumpers simply accessed it via vacant lots, Jones explained. Today’s cleanup was essential largely because of the problem, though the improvements should prevent the area from any longer being a dumping site while making the walking path and surroundings more sustainable, she continued.

Green Youngstown also worked in partnership with the city street department as well as Youngstown Parks Department, a neighborhood community-watch organization and nearby St. Angela Merici Roman Catholic Church.

Valentin joined an estimated 60 neighborhood residents, church parishioners, Youngstown State University students and others to get rid of a variety of trash along the path and a large area on and at the bottom of a steep embankment. Read more about the effort in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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