The Summit Hill Historical Society hosted a joint meeting before its regularly scheduled meeting last Wednesday evening to discuss ideas to renovate Ludlow Park before its 100th anniversary during July 2014.
To help kick-off the renovation effort, the Society voted unanimously to grant $5,000 to the effort to begin funding the project which is expected to take several years to complete.
"We walked through the park a few weeks ago and discussed some ideas," said Society President Harry Miller, Jr. to the attending residents, "but I would like us all to brainstorm tonight as to what we can do."
The society reached out and invited members from various organizations throughout the community to get involved. Those attending the first meeting included representatives from borough council, the Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization (SHCIO), the Summit Hill Heritage Center, Summit Hill Lions, the American Legion, the Shade Tree Commission and the GAR Cemetery.
Ludlow Park was donated to the borough in the 1950s from the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, which originally leased it at $1 per year at the beginning of the 1900s. It has become a central meeting place and has hosted festivals, Easter egg hunts and the annual Memorial Day Services as well as music programs and more.
There are monuments throughout the park for most major conflicts, including the War of 1812, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Civil War.
Several ideas were offered by residents including redoing the paths, fixing the benches, installing pavers on the paths around the monuments and replacing or repairing picnic tables among other items.
Miller mentioned a grant which was rejected a year ago involved major repairs which included installing period lighting in the park on the paths and redoing the walkways. The grant approximated the costs for these repairs at $140,000. He suggested that maybe parts of the project could be done a piece at a time as money became available to the groups.
"I think the picnic tables need to be fixed or replaced," said Hootenanny Chairperson Sara Ruch. "There were some tables in bad shape that could break or topple and seriously hurt someone."
She felt this should be taken care of before the walkways were done.
One thing that needs to be done whether tables are repaired or replaced is that cement pads should be installed to serve as a foundation for them. Heritage Center President and SHCIO representative Deb Ranck agreed with Ruch and said that although we want to accomplish as much as we can, safety should come first.
Members of the Historical Society agreed and decided that these repairs should be done before anything else is done. There was also a suggestion by Legion Commander Kevin O'Donnell to repair the other benches in the park as well. Some attendees thought that the benches could be sponsored by area businesses to defray some of the replacement/repair costs.
Society member Jim McHugh also brought an idea to the meeting: to provide a monument that reflects the military marker for Edward James Brogan who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the US government in 1880 during the Indian Wars for chasing two renegade Indians by horse until it was shot out from under him. He continued his pursuit on foot afterward as long as he was able. McHugh asked if the Society could approach the borough about adding this monument, which he would purchase.
Council member Bill O'Gurek Jr. was present at the meeting and agreed to bring it to the council for its deliberation, but said he personally didn't see a problem with it.
The Park meeting ended with the Society agreeing to help spearhead the effort but asked the representatives of the town organizations to return to their groups and figure out what kind of manpower and financial effort the would be able to contribute.
Later during the Society's meeting, the members agreed to donate $5,000 to begin a fund to help renovate the park. The motion passed unanimously by its members. A meeting will be announced in the future to continue the discussion.