By William K. Alcorn
A hardy group of about 30 volunteers braved the rain and poison ivy Saturday to continue an effort to reclaim Lincoln Park from the dumping ground for tires, garbage and debris of all kinds it had become and return it to the natural gem it once was.
The crew of volunteers that worked from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. was headed by Diana Hancharenko, young adult minister at St. Angela Merici Parish at 397 S. Jackson St., off which the four-block-long Lincoln Park Drive runs.
“Our goal is to open it up to pedestrian traffic, to restore green space in the city, and make it safe and beautiful,” said Hancharenko, who noted that Lincoln Park Drive has been closed to vehicle traffic for several years.
St. Angela’s parish community has been leading the charge to clean up Lincoln Park, especially along Lincoln Park Drive, to help restore usable green and park space on the city’s East Side, said Dawn Turnage, director of Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department.
Turnage noted that the park has a covered picnic pavilion, playground equipment and a colonial brick house that can be rented for $50, seats 35 and is equipped with a stove, refrigerator, tables and chairs and a fireplace.
“We were told there once was an amphitheater in the park,” said Hancharenko. Turnage added that Jazz in the Park originated in Lincoln Park.
Hancharenko, a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ adult-ministry team, said cleaning up the park is an on-going parish effort for which there likely will be another workday in the fall.
The Rev. Kevin Peters, St. Angela’s pastor, has made the park cleanup a priority, said Hancharenko, who graduated from Canfield High School and has a master’s degree in pastoral ministry.
Her husband, Mickey, graduated from Maplewood High School and is a network security engineer at Youngstown State University. Both are YSU graduates.
Hancharenko praised Youngstown, which supplied dump trucks and other equipment for the cleanup, for its cooperation and help; the efforts of YSUScape, a student association focused on combining university and citywide resources to revitalize and beautify Youngstown; and Jennifer Jones of Green Youngstown, which provided supplies needed for the day’s work.
Green Youngstown, in partnership with the Mahoning County Solid Waste District’s Green Team, is responsible for administering litter prevention and recycling programs within the city.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the hard work of YSUScape members,” said Hanchareko.
Among the YSUScape members at Saturday’s cleanup was Daniel Bancroft, a graduate of Joseph Badger High School in Kinsman, who brought along his girlfriend, Alyssa Osborne, also a Badger graduate. Osborne attends Cleveland State University and is a member of Viking Expeditions, a student-led, service-oriented group at CSU.
“YSUScape is a service-oriented organization that helps out on community work days, and I like doing this anyway,” said Bancroft, who was raking up behind the weed whackers during one of Saturday’s numerous rain showers.
Angelo Fuoco, a new member of St. Angela’s, said he learned about the cleanup day in the church bulletin.
“I thought it was a good thing for the parish to do,” said Fuoco, who lives on Youngstown’s West Side.
The church received a Neighborhood SUCCESS $3,000 grant in 2017 to help purchase new park benches, a gravity wall and material for a railing.
“There is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to make this dream a reality; but investment in our park benefits us all,” said Hancharenko.