People are beginning to care again about an historic section of Youngtown.
The Wick Park Area, established at the turn of the 20th century, mirrors the decline of the city following the steel crisis. The once affluent neighborhood fell into disrepair as people moved away and crime increased.
Josh Medore tells us about the resurgence in the Wick Park area.
Twenty years ago, Rob Pilloli bought a condemned house on the corner of Elm Street and Broadway.
When I got down here, you could walk into that park and basically buy prostitutes, you could buy drugs, anything illegal was going on in the middle of that park.
Pilloli has seen a change in the way the park is used since the city began enforcing codes on rental properties.
Today, you see people walking around, jogging, using exercise equipment, children on bikes – which you never saw 20 years ago.
Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley says rental properties tend to attract criminal activity.
It’s transient. There’s no ownership to it. People move on within a few months they move to another area and there may be people not even reporting half the crime because they just don’t want to be involved with it.
Pilloli, who works in the architectural salvage business, says one of the difficulties for the neighborhood is the lack of support from banks.
You can’t go to a bank like you can the suburbs and say, ‘I need $50,000 to fix this house.’ They’ll come in and appraise the house and they appraise the houses so low they say, ‘Oh, we give you five (thousand dollars),’ and it just doesn’t work.
Joe Parent and his wife own two homes on Bryson Street.
We want to buy up everything in this neighborhood. We want to do kind of like what the Wicks did a hundred years ago and make this neighborhood our own. But nothing is more important than the house 10 feet from us. If there is any house we’re not going to risk, it’s the one right next door.
Parent says his work may convince others to return to the city.
If somebody sees you investing money over here, they’re not afraid to invest money. It has a great impact for the city because if they can get people living here paying taxes again, then they have a budget and maybe the suburbs won’t look so promising.
While the area isn’t back to what it was originally, it has come a long way from the troubling times it faced just two decades ago.
For TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Josh Medore.