YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Youngstown State University will present a study that suggests several Youngstown city parks should close.
The focus of the study is "efficiency" for maintaining the properties. The park system was originally designed for a city population of about 150-thousand. Youngstown's current population is at about 66,000.
City leaders say because of the city's dwindling population, parks that were once full of life now sit empty.
"It's going to be a hard time for us to close some of them but ultimately we're going to have to be able to maintain what we have," said Parks and Recreation Director Bob Burke.
The study by YSU finds that while some of the city's 36 parks are longer a popular place to hang out, they've been upgraded with things like new playground equipment.
"This study we had done because we wanted to see, we realized, we were doing a lot of work at parks that weren't being utilized," said Councilman Paul Drennen.
The study suggests closing six parks. Those include: Evergreen Park, Borts Pool and Field, Buckeye Plat Field, the lower portion of Gibson Field, Hillman Park and MacDonnel Playground.
"We want the neighborhood to come to us and tell us do they use those parks," Burke said. "We want to know if they are valuable to keep or not."
The study suggests some of the city's parks could be turned into natural green spaces. Others could be transferred to new ownership.
"We don't know if we're going to close them all or find other non profits to take them over, such as Mill Creek," Burke said. "If they want to take over Stambaugh Field it would benefit them and they also would also have an extra natural environment/green space."
Before any decisions are made, opportunities for community input will take place.
YSU will present the study in detail at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.
Other changes coming to Youngstown parks include a proposal to eliminate the Parks and Recreation Commission. Council members say the commission has been in place for decades, but is no longer needed.
Residents will vote on the measure in November.
You can view a copy of the Parks survey in full at this link.