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Rockin' Roosevelt concert proceeds help keep Arnold park open

| Monday, June 16, 2014, 12:51 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Roosevelt Park monitor Jean Wroblewski of New Kensington enjoys her 16th year as a park monitor as she watched children play at the Arnold park on Friday, June 13, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Kaelyn Yedlowski, 7, of Arnold pushes her cousin Mateo Garner, 20 months, on the swings at Roosevelt Park in Arnold on Friday, June 13, 2014.
Bud Wittner of Gibsonia relaxes by his 1955 Mercury that he's owned for four years at the Hartwood Acres free Car Cruise hosted by Allegheny County and Tom Henry Chevrolet on Sunday, June 15, 2014.
Crowds filled Hartwood Acres Sunday afternoon for a free Car Cruise hosted by Allegheny County and Tom Henry Chevrolet on Sunday, June 15, 2014.

Lou Downard credited Arnold residents as much as his New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park group with raising enough money to open Roosevelt Park this summer.

“It's all thanks to the community,” said Downard.

For the second year in a row, the Social in the Park — a group of New Kensington and Arnold natives who plan social events in the two cities' parks — sponsored the Rockin' Roosevelt concert to benefit Arnold's premier park at Drey Street and Constitution Boulevard.

Downard said about 700 people attended the May concert that featured a dozen bands, raising $4,500.

That money, plus other donations, should be enough to pay for park monitors at least through Labor Day, Arnold officials said.

Councilman Philip McKinley said they opened the park for Memorial Day weekend and plan to keep it open from 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. The park will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays for maintenance.

Arnold officials don't want to open the park without monitors because they believe the park will be vandalized if it's not supervised.

“These kids aren't like we were,” said Mayor Larry Milito. “They don't respect property.”

A few residents argued the city should try opening the park more often without monitors.

“That thing is locked up better than Guantanamo Bay,” Larry Nicastro said.

He suggested they leave the park open but lock the restrooms, which Milito said have especially been a target of misbehaving children who have broken urinals and clogged toilets.

Ellyse Williams and Marcus Houser, who have advocated for a program to get youth involved in cleaning up the city, said kids who help care for the park would be less likely to allow their peers to trash it.

“Let's try it,” Williams said.

“We're making all kids suffer (for the misbehavior of a few),” Houser said.

“We can do better,” Nicastro said.

Council made no promises to open the park without supervision.

But Downard promised the Social in the Park would be back next year with another Rockin' Roosevelt concert.

“If anyone wasn't there, you missed a heck of show,” he said.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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