Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Lots of Green


Tags: agriculture, community, comprehensive, demolition, garden, landuse, Ohio, parks, plan, raingarden, stormwater, training, workforce, Youngstown

An ambitious plan to comprehensively repurpose a neighborhood's vacant properties.

n April 2010, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) launched a pilot version of Lots of Green, a neighborhood revitalization campaign and the spearhead (marquee?) initiative of the city's Strategic Plan for 2011 to 2013. The overall plan is also known as Youngstown Rising; YNDC was formed under its aegis.  The plan addresses the need for Youngstown to embrace its identity as a shrinking city, advocating for smart growth and new green space to replace buildings abandoned by a housing surplus.

Building upon a 2007 neighborhood plan developed jointly by the City of Youngstown and Ohio State University with community input, Lots of Green seeks comprehensive "reactivation" of vacant land in its target area, the Idora neighborhood on the city's south side. The Idora Neighborhood Association was formed during the community visioning process and is a major player in the Lots of Green program.

From the Lots of Green 2010 Impact Report:

Over the course of 2010, Lots of Green returned 115 parcels of vacant land (approx. 14.5 acres) to productive use. The parcels were transformed utilizing a number of green strategies including: the development of 5 community gardens, many sideyards, a stormwater mitigation demonstration site, an expansion of the adjacent Mill Creek Metropolitan Park District, several pocket parks, a block long demonstration site which includes the development of a soil research project led by The Ohio State University.

The Impact report itemizes materials used in bulk across all vacant sites, including the 30 tons of recycled cardboard and 1,000 bales of straw used to build frameworks for urban gardens. The report also describes the workforce development impact of hiring city residents, creating construction jobs, training and registering local community gardeners, and relying upon over 200 volunteers from the community. The 2007 neighborhood plan reports that nearly a third of Idora's population is under the age of 19; youth employment and training efforts also figured largely in Lots of Green.

An appendix to the Lots of Green 2010 Impact Statement includes how-to guides on community gardening, tree planting, and fence building. Resources offered include site selection tutorials, technical diagrams and illustrations, and sample planting plans and plant lists.

The transformation of two major vacant sites continues to move at a slower-than-normal pace for the program: the former Cleveland school site (5 acres) and the former Idora Park amusement park (30 acres). The program's plans for 2011 include expansion to Lincoln Park, a neighborhood on the east side of Youngstown, continual lot-greening in Idora, and the launch of a new market garden training and development center.



Youngstown Rising: Strategic Neighborhood Transformation 2011-2013, Executive Summary. Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.,%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

Lots of Green 2010 Impact Statement. Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Idora Neighborhood Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan: Introduction. City of Youngstown, 2007.

Idora Neighborhood Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan: Background. City of Youngstown, 2007.


All images courtesy of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Learn more at: