New walking path can be place of solace, refuge, speaker says

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Whatever the

reasons people may have to make use of a new walking path, they likely will feel a sense of spirituality and connectivity, both of which could supersede the benefits of any exercise or workout regimen, a religious leader contends.

“This can be a place of solace for people to come to – a place of quietness, peace and a refuge,” the Rev. Dr. Robin Woodberry said about a new paved path, which is flanked by four manicured and mulched gardens and a few benches. “It can be a good way to connect with God and nature.”

The Rev. Dr. Woodberry, the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches executive director, was among those who spoke during a ribbon-cutting, dedication and blessing ceremony Thursday afternoon to usher in the paved path in Irma Davis Park at Oak Hill and Kenmore avenues on the South Side.

Several dozen community leaders, elected officials and others braved temperatures in the high 80s and high humidity to attend the gathering and see the path, which is a project of the Oakhill Neighborhood Association.

The ONA is a group of volunteer residents, businesses, schools, faith-based groups and community organizations dedicated to working toward creating neighborhoods and a city that are characterized by a positive identity and a greater sense of belonging, as well as investing efforts in promoting health and well-being, according to its mission statement.

Ground was broken in April for the 1⁄8-mile loop-around path, which was finished in a matter of days. Assisting in the effort was a $4,980 Raymond J. Wean Foundation Neighborhood Success Grant, money that was used to help pay for the benches and some landscaping work, noted Vicki Vicars, the neighborhood association’s coordinator.

Boardman-based Anthony J. Billet Landscaping performed that aspect of the project, Vicars added.

The path also is a testimonial to what can happen when people, organizations and stakeholders collaborate with a solid vision regarding possibilities for revitalizing a neighborhood, said Councilman Julius T. Oliver, D-1st. The park is in his ward.

Lynn Williams, an area resident and a Youngstown State University intern, explained that ONA’s core leaders met monthly to formulate plans of action for building the path. She and Vicars also submitted the grant application to the Wean Foundation, she added.

During her remarks at the ceremony, Williams thanked the core members for playing “an intricate part” in making the effort possible: V&V Appliance Parts Inc. of Youngstown, New Bethel Baptist Church, the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program and Needles Eye Christian Life Center.

The others were St. Patrick Church parish, two officers with the Youngstown Police Department, the South Side Academy and the Oak Hill Collaborative Inc., a nonprofit organization with a focus on community revitalization via small-business development and neighborhood beautification projects.

A community cookout followed the ceremony.

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