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Ground breaking scheduled at future Slatington park site

Published July 28. 2010 05:00PM

A ground breaking ceremony will be held at the future site of the Slatington Memorial Park.

The borough, in conjunction with Northern Lehigh Future Focus, will hold a press conference and ceremony at 10 a.m. Aug. 3, at the former site of the old Slatington High School, located at Second & Main Streets in Slatington.

The event will begin phase I of the park's construction, which will include the construction of a brick paved performance area, the placement of a large gazebo, angled parking along Second Street, new sidewalks along Second Street and around the gazebo, a drinking fountain and plumbing, electrical infrastructure work and the installation of the previously mentioned Victorian style benches.

Work on the project, to be conducted by Livengood Excavators, Walnutport, is expected to commence in the next few weeks.

In December 2002, with the help of state Rep. Julie Harhart, and the late state Sen. Jim Rhoades, the NLFF was able to secure a Department of Community and Economic Development grant in the amount of $10,000 for design work and drawings.

From 2003-2010, the borough, working in conjunction with the NLFF, has sought funding for the estimated $280,000 park.

A $40,000 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 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, 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 NLFF a grant in the amount of $3,000. Additional grant money and money from several classes that graduated from the former school was used to purchase $10,000 in Victorian style benches, which will soon grace the grounds of the park.

The school building, constructed in 1916, and used as a junior high school since 1960 when a new high school was built, had been vacant since 1981.

The building fell into disrepair, with the roof starting to cave in, and was condemned by the borough, which then acquired the property through back taxes. With the help of former County Executive Jane Baker, who tapped the county's "rainy day fund"; the borough was able to raze the building in 2001.

A community visioning group serving the Northern Lehigh area, the 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.

Dale Freudenberger, market town's manager for the D&L Corridor, 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.

For further information, contact borough Councilman Dan Stevens at (610) 760-0685.

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