Boardman Park unveils plans for future Southern Park Historic District
By Jordyn Grzelewski
Boardman Park unveiled a master plan for a district that will pay homage to a historic part of the township.
A planning committee made up of community members came together with architects and park leaders to come up with a vision for the Southern Park Historic District, which will encompass the Southern Park Stables and a homestead donated to the township by Clarence and Rose Smith.
“We want spaces that are suitable for all members of the community, no matter what walk of life, and accessible to everyone in this community,” park Commissioner Joyce Mistovich said Wednesday.
The plans, which were designed by architects Ronald Faniro and Frank Rulli Jr., feature five main components – Southern Park Stables, Washington Parkette, Southern Park Promenade Nature’s Playground, Cultural Grove and the Smith Family Homestead. All are located on or near Washington Boulevard.
The district has historic ties to the Southern Park Racetrack, a popular sporting destination in the Mahoning Valley that was established in 1908. The racetrack featured a half-mile racetrack, barns, a grandstand, dance hall, flower gardens, picnic areas and baseball fields, according to information provided by the park.
Southern Park Stables, private training stables in the days of the racetrack, later were purchased by Youngstown Vindicator reporter and longtime columnist Janie S. Jenkins. Jenkins lived at the Washington Boulevard property from 1946 until 1993, then deeded it to Boardman Park for preservation.
The Smith homestead, located on Raupp Avenue, was the childhood home of Clarence Smith Jr., founder and owner of Compco Industries and Adamas Lapidary and Gem Shop. Smith later raised his family and operated his businesses there. In 2015, the family donated the homestead to the township, which gave it to the park.
The plans for Southern Park Stables include restoration of the stables, a new competition horse ring, a judging stand, bleachers, an open pasture, a waterfowl habitat, community gardens, staging paddocks, equine trailer parking, an exercise pasture, a restored orchard, and restored gates.
“We are going to reactivate usage of those stables,” Mistovich said.
Planners also came up with the “Washington Parkette,” an area across from the stables that will feature bridle/hiking trails, parking, a picnic pavilion, a playground, a fire pit and horseshoe pits.
The “Cultural Grove,” adjacent to the homestead, will have a sculpture grove and an open-air auditorium, among other features.
At the homestead, planners envision an activity center in the barn, areas for events, gazebos and swings, and gardens on the grounds, and features such as a Boardman heritage museum and mineralogy gallery in the house.
The master plan is in the conceptual phase. The next step will be to break it down into sections and start looking at funding options, Mistovich said. An estimated cost has not been determined.
Mistovich noted the park has operated on a single voted mill for decades, and said this project will continue the tradition of seeking grants and help from donors.