A new place to play

Improvement plans underway for local park

By LYLE T. GALLOWAY
Posted 8/8/21

HONESDALE, PA — A playground at the site of the former Stourbridge Elementary School will be getting a new look within the coming years.

Dave Hartung, Wayne County’s Systems of Care …

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A new place to play

Improvement plans underway for local park

Posted

HONESDALE, PA — A playground at the site of the former Stourbridge Elementary School will be getting a new look within the coming years.

Dave Hartung, Wayne County’s Systems of Care Coordinator helped spearhead the project. Hartung works with families and youth who receive services through the county. During their meetings, they give feedback to improve the system and suggestions to for community outreach projects.

The project started with the dedication of a picnic table to Megan Pitino. Pitino had worked with the Area P Special Olympics, who used the park for bocce ball tournaments. Sadly, she passed from COVID in December of 2020. From there, the idea snowballed into something bigger.

The vibrant community spaces of Hartung’s upbringing also served as inspiration to rejuvenate the park.

“Growing up, we used to play at the Lincoln School all the time, there were these outdoor spaces for kids to go and play that were easily accessible. They’ve kind of gone away over the years, slowly for various reasons,” he said.

The area itself has been frequented by visitors to Wayne County’s Human Services departments. Due to its proximity to children and youth services, parents will often use the site for their visitation hours.

From there, Hartung’s organization teamed up with various others to put the plan into motion. These included the Stourbridge Project, Wayne Memorial Health Systems, Children and Youth Services and Early Intervention.

The project itself is planned in three phases, with planning currently underway for the first phase.

The first area that will be tackled will be the basketball court, where it will receive a new paint job, as well as new rims, nets and backboards. Hartung is seeking input from community members and parkgoers about a possible color scheme for the new court. The adjacent bocce court used by the Special Olympics Pennsylvania will also be redone. 

Behind the playground itself is a tunnel leading into Park Street. The structure is painted a dull gray. Small, spray-painted drawings can be spotted along the top of the structure. Hartung plans to replace the graffiti with art of another kind. He’s reached out to the leader of Honesdale High School’s art program to turn into a community art project.

He cited that it will be a good way for young artists to hone their creative skills, and that it would serve as some positive pressure to any potential vandals.

“The more community involvement you have, there’s more of a sense of ownership,” said Hartung. “There’s more of a sense of ‘oh, this is being used by my peers, this work was put there by the kids that I’m sitting in class with, or kids that I grew up with or sit across from at lunch.’”

Rounding out Phase I will be new signage and a small, mobile library.

Other planned future additions to the park include a community garden, updated trash and recycling receptacles, an ADA accessible picnic table and solar lighting courtesy of SEEDS.

In order to fund the project, Hartung and his organization have been applying for various grants through the Wayne County Community Foundation, United Way and Wayne Memorial Health Foundation. Part of the proceeds from the Andrew Murphy Volleyball Tournament will be donated to the park.

Hartung has also been working in tandem with other community innovators, such as Molly Rogers from the Confluence Trail Project. As the proposed trail will lead through the playground, the pair were able to negotiate a curb cut in Wayne Memorial Hospital’s parking lot to allow for easier access to both locations.

Work on Phase I of the project is set to be completed by the summer of 2022.

Hartung hopes that the new park will gain more attention, and possibly be reminiscent of the community spaces that he fondly remembers.

“We’d like to make it so that it’s not an afterthought, and it is a place where people can gather and enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “If people that have to go to Wayne Memorial and they need a break from visiting someone, or they have kids with them and they want something to do, they can easily just walk through the parking lot.”

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