Upgrades and financing needed to improve ‘aging’ Montgomery Park
MONTGOMERY – Since January of this year, a core group of concerned citizens have been meeting once a month to look for ways to improve the quality and safety of one of its most valuable community resources – the Montgomery Park. The organization, officially known as the Montgomery Community Development Corporation (CDC) invited several representatives from Lycoming to come for a meeting on Friday afternoon at one of the park’s pavilions.
Board treasurer, Christy Philips spoke on the updates needed to meet modern codes and standards for the “aging park.” Seeking help from various agencies, she said, “Perhaps we can get some business and federal funding.” Phillips described another park in Bloomsburg that made improvements after raising $300,000 from private funding, so the Montgomery CDC feels the upgrades are well worth the investment.
The park building needs top priority, they said. During the week from Monday through Thursday, the facility is used most of the summer by the children’s recreation program, Summer Alive. During the meeting the park was in use by “Lil Bean Sprouts”, a day care center from Watsontown.
Barb Jarmoska, board president of Summer Alive, Montgomery’s recreation program, made an emotional appeal to those from the attending agencies such as DCNR, Planning & Community Development, the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, the Montgomery Borough, and the county zoning office. “We are using the kitchen at the Riverside Campground,” she said while addressing the need for a new indoor kitchen that is legally certified where hot meals are served to many children “we are empowering for the next generation. This is the essence of what we do here.” There is no cut-off for any age or diversity for the program that is now in its fourth year. “Everybody is treated the same here.”
The bathrooms and plumbing need upgraded. There is no hot water available. The kitchen is old and should be updated in order to provide further revenue sources for the building. While touring the facility, Ed Feigles from County Planning said the building’s structure would need to be raised in order to meet flooding guidelines. Feigles, who also serves on the Muncy Borough Council, suggested applying for some of the grants.
Lynn Crist from the Montgomery Borough suggested starting with the facility which was built in the early 1900s by the Army Corp of Civil Engineers, and has no handicap access or room for storage.
The skateboard park that was once a tennis court, is now cracked and closed after someone got hurt, as it is not safe anymore. Additional storage is needed to hold playground equipment and arts and crafts supplies. A community garden is maintained by Summer Alive kids and it would be nice to have storage for the tools which are also used for the nearby Black Hole Creek clean-up.
“Let’s separate the park from the campground,” said Phillips who suggested a border of flowers and trees. A dream area would be a play center for adventure and nature play.”
“This is the largest borough park in the county,” said Feigles, comprising about 15 acres.
Alice Trowbridge, coordinator from the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, suggested an inventory of existing resources, a feasibility study, and some public feedback before applying for any grant funding. “This will help when estimates are needed,” she said, “and use architectural drawings to show what the building will look like for fundraising purposes. It should be a community planning process, defining what the community wants before marketing the project.”
Wes Fahringer from DCNR added, “Get a grant for a master site plan that will identify other funding sources, and develop a scope of work.” Larry Stout asked for a “ball park figure” for this next step. “Approximately $30,000 for the facility, maybe more,” said Fahringer. Feigles said that Muncy borough is receiving $250,000 from DCNR that was used to leverage other smaller grants, and projects now are up to $350,000. “These planning grants are easier to get,” he added.
Connect some walking and hiking trails to the community suggested Tali MacArthur, executive director of Susquehanna Greenway.
Fae Herb of Borough Council announced a fundraiser set for August 11 in the park. A taco stand, Italian ice and bounce house will be set up during the wine festival that day.
Officers for the Community Development Corp are Steve Cook, President; Christina Slattery, Vice-President; Amber Wilt, Secretary; and Christy Phillips, Treasurer.