Foundation aims to beautify

Plans to clean Falls parks, reopen community center

NEWTON FALLS — The newly formed Newton Falls Preservation Foundation aims to beautify the banks along the Mahoning River, clean up local parks and reopen the community center.

Andy McElrath and Pat Layshock, both members of the foundation, talked to Village Council last week about the group’s short- and long-term goals under the foundation’s theme, “Preserving the Future Today.”

McElrath, vice chairman of the foundation with Chairman Steve Simpson, said the short-term goals will be cleaning up and enhancing the parks and beautifying the riverbanks, including by restoring lighting at the falls and replacing vegetation.

Long-term goals are to reopen the center, which was closed at the end of last year because of budget shortfalls and needed repairs, and to preserve historic buildings and homes.

The community center was built in 1946 by the USO as a gathering place for military personnel and it developed into a social hall and meeting place for residents over the years, he said.

“We started the foundation because we had concerns that the city does not have all the funds for the parks, riverbank or community center,” McElrath said. “Several concerned citizens have decided to be part of this.”

Foundation members hope to form a partnership with the village to work on projects and implement procedures to protect and preserve local resources, he said. The group also plans to meet with the parks and recreation board.

”With the completion of these projects, we can foresee a positive impact on our entire community,” he said.

Village Manager Jack Haney said council and the administration listened to the presentation and are reviewing the information they received from Layshock and McElrath.

Layshock said the foundation would like to have the Trumbull County building inspector perform a structural assessment of the community center to see what needs to be repaired as well as seeing what hazards, construction issues and concerns are within and around the building and stand in the way of reopening it.

He said the foundation would help cover costs for the repairs and also provide volunteers for the work.

McElrath and Layshock said the community has 10 parks. The foundation wants to compile a list of what repairs and enhancements are needed as well as find the volunteers to make it happen.

He said former resident Connie Smith Talcott, who lives in the Carolinas, was being contacted for her expertise on local historic building preservation as will the Ohio Historical Preservation Office and the Trumbull County Historical Society with its Historic Building Recognition Program.

The village has 600 “historically significant homes” constructed before 1939, McElrath said.

The foundation believes working alongside state and local preservation organizations and collaborating with the village and with volunteers will help accomplish goals.

A fundraiser for the foundation is set for Nov. 25 at the Newton Falls-Brookfield varsity basketball game at the high school with a 50-50 raffle and other money making activities planned.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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