Renovations at Mt. Pleasant's Frick Park are set to take root
For about a year now, Mt. Pleasant's Dorothy Ristway has walked two miles every day on the walking track bordering Frick Park in the borough.
“Five laps equals one mile; I do 10,” Ristway said.
Borough officials are planning renovations at the park to enliven the grounds with newly planted trees, along with several other features, in an effort to enhance the experiences of visitors such as Ristway and to keep them safer while they walk.
“Planting the new trees will create shade and also give the park beauty in the spring. And we're going to repair paths, try to make walking area level all around and safer,” said Joe Bauer, president of borough council. “I think people will be pleased with the work when it's done.”
In March, three large trees located between the park's retaining wall and walking track were removed after borough council received consultation from a Penn State University forestry expert who informed council the trees were dying, said borough Councilman Larry Tate.
The trees' roots were causing the concrete slabs to heave and create a tripping hazard for people who use the track, along with damaging a nearby retaining wall, Tate said.
“Every year, the roots broke our sidewalks up there and pushed our wall out,” Tate said. “It was never going to stop. That park gets used for a lot of walkers, and we want to try to keep it as safe as we can.”
Jim Durstine is owner of A-1 Lawn and Tree Service in Hecla, the company contracted to remove the trees, previously confirmed that the roots were causing damage to both the track and the wall.
Durstine said the root system of the trees goes down as far as 4 feet then reaches out a few feet past the trees' drip line, or the farthest reaching tips of the branches and leaves.
After the trees were cut down, the stumps were recently removed and replaced with sod along the portion of the park's walking trail at the Etze Avenue entrance.
Looking ahead, borough Councilwoman Cindy Stevenson said she is awaiting word on an application she filed with the Keep America Beautiful Foundation in conjunction with Westmoreland Cleanways for $5,000 in grant funding to plant trees that are native to Pennsylvania.
“We're still waiting to make sure that we get that money,” said Stevenson, adding that Ellen Keefe, executive director of Westmoreland Cleanways, informed her of the option.
“If we do get it, that money will be earmarked to plant trees there, as well as in other parks,” Stevenson said. “In my opinion, I think we need to seek some professional consultation about where to plant the trees.”
One of the types of trees borough officials have discussed planting at the park are cherry blossoms, Bauer said.
“They grow to about 15 feet tall, so they would be easier to maintain while still shading some of the area there,” he said.
To address the damaged retaining wall, which is entering a nearby alley, the borough plans to install decorative concrete blocks in its place, along with benches, Bauer said.
“They're really heavy; nobody's going to move them,” he said. “I think it will all make the area more family friendly.”
Bauer credited Tate, Stevenson and new Councilman Jim Wojnar with moving the project along.
Tate said the borough plans to complete most of the renovation work park in-house.
“We're also looking at installing globe lighting like at Veterans Park so people can walk there at night,” Tate said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.