A Northern Lehigh community visioning group plans to celebrate the opening of the new Slatington Memorial Park in style.

Northern Lehigh Future Focus (NLFF) will sponsor a dedication ceremony and free public concert on Sunday to commemorate the completion and opening of the new Slatington Memorial Park.

The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m., followed by a free concert by the local group the Quartet of Five, which will last until about 6 p.m. The park is located on the corner of Second and Main Streets.

In the event of inclement weather, the dedication and free concert will be held inside St. John's UCC Church, 15 S. Second Street, located directly to the rear of Slatington Memorial Park.

The dedication ceremony will feature local dignitaries from the Borough of Slatington, Northern Lehigh Future Focus, Lehigh County, Lehigh Valley Chamber Foundation, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and others, all of whom played a role in the planning, financing and construction of the park, said Robert Stettner, NLFF publicity coordinator.

In addition, Stettner said members of several graduating classes who donated money for Victorian style benches will be in attendance as well.

Constructed in 1916, and used as a junior high school since 1960 when a new high school was built, the building had been vacant since 1981, Stettner said. It fell into disrepair, with the roof starting to cave in, and was condemned by the borough, he said.

Stettner said the borough acquired the property through back taxes, and with the help of former County Executive Jane Baker, who tapped the county's "rainy day fund"; was able to raze the building in 2001.

He said NLFF became interested in the site, formed a committee, and held a number of community meetings to receive public input in order to determine what to do with the vacant site. D&L Corridor Market Town's Manager Dale Freudenberger was instrumental in working with Future Focus on the public meetings, and then in the early stages of planning and helping to find funding sources for the park, Stettner said.

In Dec. 2002, with the help of state Rep. Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh), and the late state Sen. Jim Rhoades, NLFF was able to secure a DCED grant in the amount of $10,000 for design work and drawings, Stettner said.

From 2003-2010, the borough working in conjunction with NLFF and has sought funding for the estimated $280,000 park, he said. A $40,000 DCNR grant was awarded to the borough in 2005 for construction of the park. With the awarding of a $76,000 grant from Lehigh County through its Green Future Fund this year, Stettner said enough money was available to begin phase I of the park's construction.

Additional monies for the project have been received from the Lehigh Valley Chamber Foundation, who awarded Future Focus a grant in the amount of $3,000, said Stettner, who added that additional grant money and money from several classes that graduated from the former school were used to purchase $10,000 in Victorian style benches.

He said Livengood Excavating, of Walnutport, was awarded the contract for phase I of the project, which included the construction of a brick paved performance area; the placement of a large gazebo; angled parking along Second St., new sidewalks along Second St. and around the gazebo; a drinking fountain and plumbing; electrical infrastructure work; and the installation of the previously mentioned Victorian style benches, all of which was completed in Dec. of 2010.

Earlier this year, Stettner said MTS Landscaping of Slatington completed landscaping work around the gazebo and performance area in spring. In addition, he said electrical wiring and lighting of the gazebo was also completed during that time frame, while a public drinking fountain is scheduled to be installed this coming fall.

For further information contact Stettner at (610) 767-7626.