New Kensington officials laud cooperation of groups in Memorial Park repairs
New Kensington officials are touting the cooperation of several groups involved in renovations at Memorial Park.
Contractors are working this week to replace two of the park's central pavilions. They're located behind the tennis courts, next to a pavilion that was replaced earlier.
Raising the estimated $70,000 for the latest pavilion work was a cooperative effort, Mayor Tom Guzzo said.
The city's Redevelopment Authority earmarked about $40,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money.
The New Ken/Arnold Social in the Park group, which has fundraised extensively for the two cities' parks over the past six years, directed a $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County toward the project.
The city ponied up about $6,000 in insurance money received when the park was vandalized several years ago, Guzzo said.
Frank Tosto, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, said students from Northern Westmoreland Career & Technology Center in New Kensington assisted in demolishing the old pavilions. The school has been involved in several park projects, including renovating the band shell in 2013 and 2014.
“It's been a wonderful, cooperative effort,” Tosto said.
“It's great — we've been waiting a year-and-a-half for everything to come together,” said Lou Downard with the social group.
Downard and Guzzo said no one is certain of the exact age of the former pavilions, but they remember them from their childhood. They suspect the structures may date to the park's founding as a Civilian Conservation Corps project in the 1930s.
“Those pavilions are packed every weekend in the summer,” Guzzo said.
In addition to the Memorial Park grant, the Social in the Park also received a $26,000 grant from the Community Foundation to renovate the “tot lot” playground area in Arnold's Roosevelt Park. With a little luck, Downard hopes that project will be completed in time for the May 15 Rockin' Roosevelt benefit concert.
Memorial Park should be in fine form for the Social's September Band Blast fundraiser there. In fact, the renovations should be complete in time for Memorial Day weekend, the June Community Days hosted by the city's fire departments and the city's 125th anniversary festivities this summer.
Guzzo hopes a new dek hockey rink, which will replace three of the outdated tennis courts, also will be finished this spring. He said contracts were awarded last year and the design work is done; they await materials and cooperative weather.
The two remaining tennis courts also will be rehabilitated.
About a half-million dollars worth of work, most of it covered through grants, fundraising and insurance money, has occurred at Memorial Park in recent years.
In addition to the new pavilions, renovated amphitheater and dek hockey/tennis court project, the restrooms that were damaged in an arson and the aging entrance bridge were replaced and the ballfields improved.
Guzzo said they hope to repave the park driveway as well.
Liz Hayes is a Tribune-Review staff writer.