YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We’ve heard a lot about FirstEnergy’s plans to run new power lines from downtown Youngstown through the East Side. Most of the criticism is because the lines would run behind the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. Eventually, the lines would also go through St. Angela of Merici Parish, and the pastor there is not happy about it.
St. Angela Merici Parish has overlooked Youngstown’s East Side for 111 years. But now, FirstEnergy wants to erect a power pole and run power lines through the property.
“They’re saying right in this area, right here,” said Pastor Kevin Peters.
Fr. Peters showed us the spot — on church property — where the pole would go. The lines would run from Wilson Avenue, up Gladstone Street and across Lincoln Park.
“The more conversations that we had with people in the city and in the neighborhood, it just seemed like a bad idea,” Fr. Peters said.
“Lincoln Park is one of our city’s gems,” said Diana Hancharenko, who runs the church’s Young Adult Ministry.
The ministry has worked to clean up Lincoln Park, which runs next to the church.
“We have pulled out hundreds of tires out from the ravine down here,” Hancharenko said.
FirstEnergy’s proposed power line would take it right through Lincoln Park, likely requiring the clear cutting of old oak trees.
“Bringing anything in that’s going to destroy any of the trees or any of the landscaping we have right now, I think would really decimate these beautiful spaces that we have,” Hancharenko said.
Fr. Peters has already declined FirstEnergy’s $5,700 offer for an easement on St. Angela of Merici land.
“Money doesn’t even become an issue for us. I mean, $5,700 is a pittance,” Fr. Peters said.
He’s also concerned that homeowners in the neighborhood will be taken advantage of if they’re offered $5,000.
“There are people here that don’t have money to pay their utility bills and when you flash an offer to buy an easement in front of them, it’s hard for them to turn that down,” Fr. Peters said.
Fr. Peters seemed confident FirstEnergy would not be putting power lines through here.
“The diocese told us that they would back our play 100 percent. Whatever we decided at the parish level they’ll back it. We’re not granting the easement. We’re not going to agree to it,” Fr. Peters said.
Fr. Peters says the church plans to build greenhouses to grow fresh food for people in the neighborhood along the same path where the power lines would go. He says if power lines end up as planned, the greenhouse plans would have to be scrapped.