Streetscape, Riverfest are investments in our future

Mahoning Valley resi- dents have two golden opportunities today to celebrate and contribute to the resurgence of vital community assets.

We urge as many as possible to seize those opportunities to build upon the success of the revitalization of downtown Youngstown and to the rejuvenation of the Mahoning River. They can do so by making a day of it at the Streetscape cleanup and beautification project in the central city and the Riverfest on the banks of the Mahoning at the B&O Station downtown.

Now it in its 21st year, the Streetscape project sponsored by the nonprofit Youngstown CityScape has matured into an annual eye-turning tradition in the downtown and its environs.

What started in 1998 as an informal effort to clean up and spruce up a relatively lifeless and abandoned central business district by a handful of volunteers has germinated this year into a massive undertaking by 800-plus “Streetscape Superheroes” to complement ongoing successes in reinventing downtown as a vibrant hub of commerce and entertainment.

Collectively, members of institutions as diverse as Youngstown State University, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and the Men’s Garden Club of Youngstown get down and dirty. From 9 a.m. until noon, they clean, they trim, they plant and they mulch in high-visibility areas where the aesthetic transformation can gain maximum exposure.

In its two decades, Streetscape has invested nearly $1 million into downtown beautification. That’s not counting the scores of hours of free labor donated from devoted volunteers.

CityScape Executive Director Sharon Letson said she’s “proud of this milestone and are so grateful for the community’s support over the years.”

We congratulate Streetscape in maturing into an integral piece of the city’s urban renewal puzzle and hope a record number of volunteers turns out today.

Though registration has ended, we’re confident Letson and her work crews would not turn away any willing and able helpers armed with gardening tools and rakes this morning.


Once that work is complete, they and others can high-tail it to the Seventh Annual Riverfest inside and outside the B&0, sponsored by the Friends of the Mahoning River organization.

That growing community coalition has worked steadfastly over the years toward improving the river’s watershed for recreational opportunities and economic development. Today’s festival from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. stands as a deserved celebration of its successes in those efforts.

The festival also will include kayaking and canoeing plus educational and historical presentations with a focus on the river and the environment. Most importantly the festival enables the community to celebrate progress already achieved on the river and to galvanize bigger and better achievements in the not-so-distant future.

That progress is tangible. After decades of waiting, one of several dams along the Mahoning in Lowellville where tons of toxic sediments prevented a free and clear flow of water will at long last be removed this year. In addition, construction is moving full-stream ahead on a Mahoning Riverfront park adjacent to the new outdoor amphitheater downtown. Other cleanup initiatives throughout the Valley abound.

Together, Riverfest and Streetscape represent two concrete investments in the future of Youngstown and the region. Both deserve maximum support to reap maximum long-term dividends.

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