Dodging snowflakes and raindrops this Spring, the Youngstown Lions Club is progressing with the rehabilitation of Lions Park in the village, aiming to plant six trees at 1 p.m. Saturday in honor of Arbor Day.
The club also will also install three more sturdy benches for those strolling its proposed walking path, according to Richard Allen, Youngstown Lions Club president.
The club took on the project last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lions Club International. The club rededicated the 3-acre park with a new memorial plaque last June when it unveiled its ambitious plans, which will eventually include; a shaded walking path around the entire perimeter, new playground equipment, a picnic shelter, more benches and more shade trees. The club is working in partnership with the Village of Youngstown and Town of Porter Departments of Public Works.
The park was originally dedicated in 1968 and is bordered by Applewood Drive, Parkside Place, Westwood Avenue and Brampton Road.
“We have marked the part of the walking path along the northern edge of the park and we’ll be planting three, 10-foot sycamore trees and three Kwanzan flowering cherry trees along this section, as well as spacing the three benches,” said Allen.
“This summer, we’ll begin putting in the walking path, using the proper blacktop millings from the Youngstown DPW and Porter DPW,” he added. “The path will be six feet wide and somewhat serpentine, going around trees and playground equipment. This (first) portion of the path is about 650 feet along the northern edge of the park and goes past the existing basketball court and ends at Brampton Road. Ultimately, this path will loop around the whole park.”
Allen said the Youngstown DPW is creating the benches, based on a design used at Old Fort Niagara, using no-maintenance composite boards for the seats and backs, with concrete ends for stability.
The club also plans to plant a different tree variety in separate sections of the pathway to offer shade. He said local arborist Peter Grainge is advising the club.
Allen said the club had its most productive fundraiser ever last month, the Cash Bash, which was held in conjunction with the village’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It raises money for a number of eyesight and hearing-related causes, as well as local community organizations and projects each year. The club was able to devote $1,000 from the fundraiser for the purchase of the 6 new trees. It also set aside $2,000 for federal application fees to create a 501(c)3 foundation status for the park project, he said.
“We have two lawyers who are Lions Club members who are preparing the paperwork at no cost to the club, and it can be very expensive if we had to pay for it,” Allen said. “We just had the papers prepared, but have not submitted them yet. When we get our 501(c) 3 status, we’ll be able to start applying for corporate grants for the park. We learned that in order for us to realize our vision, we needed to take this step.”
Allen said the club has vowed to use “as much labor and equipment of our own, as we can” relying on its partnership with the village and town for in-kind services to help keep park project costs down. It is a village-owned park. The next phase, creating the first section of the walking path, “will probably take all summer,” he said.
He said the club also intends to plant several more shade trees and install several more benches over coming years, as well purchase new playground equipment and install a picnic shelter. The village continues to pursue grant money, as well.
Anyone wishing to make a donation for the park project may visit: youngstownlionsclub.org.