YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Years ago, Youngstown had a Shade Tree Commission which was eliminated in the midst of budget cuts. But now it’s being resurrected under a slightly new name — the Shade Tree and Beautification Committee.
The leaves are coming out at Youngstown’s Wick Park where everywhere there are trees. Trees it turns out are always an issue in the city.
“Whether they need to be cut down on our devil’s strips, cut down here at our parks, or at someone’s house. It was always what’s going on with the trees,” said 3rd ward councilwoman Samantha Turner.
Turner decided to recreate what will now be called the Shade Tree and Beautification Committee. It’ll have 15 members including one from each of the seven wards. The city will pay to train them through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“Those community members can help other community members identify problems that they have on their private property, and then also we can be an additional resource to our city departments,” said Turner.
“But the second part of it is really the beautification aspect that we added that wasn’t part of the original committee,” said 5th ward councilwoman Lauren McNally.
McNally said the committee will also deal with Youngstown’s numerous vacant lots like the one on Mahoning Avenue near Steel Street. With the city planning to demolish 500 to 800 more buildings over the next three years, the number of vacant lots will only increase.
“And so we want to take a look at these properties and say OK here it maybe makes sense to go back to nature, here it makes sense to plant native plants, here it makes sense to keep the tree or not keep the tree that’s already on the property,” said McNally.
“You go on a street sometimes you’ll see a home and there will be five or six parcels with nothing there. So we have to until we figure out what our housing strategy is going to be, and we begin to redevelop, let us figure out how to beautify this,” said Turner.
Youngstown City Council is expected to vote on creating the Shade Tree and Beautification Committee at its next meeting on May 18, and it is expected to pass.