Almost 40 years after Owl Creek became part of Tamaqua, the residential neighborhood appears close to getting its first playground.

At a meeting Wednesday at Tamaqua Borough Hall, borough officials opened sealed bids for site work that would establish a one-acre recreation venue along the south side of Owl Creek Road near the two reservoirs.

According to Jason Boris, executive director, Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Commission, the project is funded by a variety of sources.

"We received two $15,000 state grants," said Boris. One is a Department of Community and Economic Development grant, the other is a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant. The ESRC is administering those funds. In addition, private fundraising is taking place to pay for features such as a picnic pavilion. Other assets of the park would be a basketball court, walking trails, play areas and, eventually, exercise stations.

"It's a big step forward," said Georgine Wentz of the Owl Creek Community Park Association.

Dan Schroeder, Tamaqua Borough community development officer, indicated that only two qualified bids were received out of eight contractors who originally picked up the spec sheets.

The low bid came from RGC Development of Bath, which offered a base bid of $25,606.50 for site work to include grading and grass seeding. Estimates from RGC Development for alternate phases of the project include $19,500 for an asphalt access road, $32,303 for shredded wood mulch, $1,800 for crushed stone to be applied near a future pole building site, and various additional amounts for topsoil and vegetation.

The firm of Livengood Excavations, Walnutport, offered a base bid of $49,000 for site work, $19,000 for an asphalt access road, $9,500 for wood mulch, $1,000 for crushed stone and various additional amounts for topsoil and vegetation.

Schroeder said the project would include erosion control fencing and possibly "a rain garden, recommended by the Schuylkill Conservation District."

Schroeder said the next stage of the project would be to strategize with those involved in order to get the best bang for the buck.

"Now we will meet with the Owl Creek Committee and go over the bids and see what we can and cannot do," explained Schroeder.

Owl Creek is comprised of a residential neighborhood adjacent to two bodies of water known as Upper Dam and Lower Dam, along with 996 acres of forest.

The dams were an early source of water for Tamaqua borough and for decades considered off limits to the public. However, the area is now open year-round for nature walks, hiking, boating, fishing, photography, bird-watching and various special events organized by the Owl Creek Reservoir Commission. The site includes parking, bathrooms, a boat dock and rental pavilion which can be reserved for special occasions.

The playground would be a first for the Owl Creek neighborhood, which became part of Tamaqua on Monday, March 8, 1971, through annexation.

The area previously was a municipality known as Rahn Township.