$250K parks plan withers

Youngstown council plans to opposes it

YOUNGSTOWN — City council members say they will vote down a $250,000 request to use federal American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a park plan when they meet next week.

Council met for two hours Wednesday to discuss that request and one to spend $150,000 in ARP money to make improvements to parks around the city.

The latter proposal has the support of council, but its members rejected the administration’s recommendation to spend $250,000 for the park plan. Council meets June 15 with both park ARP requests up for votes.

Council tabled both items at a May 18 meeting in order to get answers to questions.

The administration wants the ARP funding for what Dawn Turnage, the city’s parks and recreation director, described as a comprehensive park plan for the city that would tie in economic development opportunities to create new parks and improve the quality of life for residents.

But council members said there was no need to spend that amount of money on such a study.

“It sounds like something we can accomplish in the parks department and other city departments” along with city partners, Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, said.

Councilwoman Basia Adamczak, D-7th Ward, provided a detailed proposal Wednesday to spend $9.4 million in ARP funds for parks and recreation, which was met with support from her fellow council members.

The proposal included $2.4 million — about $200,000 each to upgrade 12 existing parks — as well as $5.5 million for “significant” improvements to 10 park properties and $1.5 million for work to 10 sports fields and to close fields at MacDonell, Oak Park and Evergreen parks.

“We can do a lot of these things in-house,” Adamczak said. “I don’t think spending $250,000 on a comprehensive plan is the way to go. I don’t feel it’s advantageous to spend that money on a plan when we have the information. We know what’s needed at our parks. We should be working on execution now.”

Turnage said the $250,000 was “on the higher end” and “I don’t think we’d get to that amount.”

But council members weren’t interested in spending anything close to that for a plan.

Council members said they would consider spending a much smaller amount on a long-term study of the city’s parks at a later date.

“Once we make our improvements, we can have an outside consultant give us a 10-year plan,” Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th Ward, said.

Council members agreed to have a meeting later this month to discuss the possible long-term study.

Council agreed Wednesday to vote next week in favor of spending $150,000 in ARP funds to make various improvements to parks throughout the city.

Council members tabled that proposal last month because it wanted a list of what was to be done with the $150,000. It wasn’t provided to council until Wednesday.

The money would be used to replace and repair pavilions at three parks, make repairs to playground equipment at two parks, do work at the Henry Stambaugh Golf Course and replace picnic tables, benches and trash / recycling containers at 10 parks and the Northside Pool as well as install a shade structure at the pool.

Council members said they wanted the list to make sure that work they want to do at parks in their wards with the $2 million each of them received from the city’s $82,773,370 ARP allocation wouldn’t be duplicated.

“Some of these are Band-Aids that are needed now and the long-term plan won’t be implemented for this summer,” Nikki Posterli, the mayor’s chief of staff and director of the city’s community planning and economic development department, said. “While the parks are being used, these are safety issues.”

To date, none of the $14 million — $2 million per ward — has been spent by council. Council approved the allocation April 6.


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