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Tamaqua park getting upgrade

A fixture in downtown Tamaqua will be getting a face-lift this spring, thanks to a generous donation from a local family.

Betty and Lowell Koch made the donation in memory of Betty’s father, Charles Billig, to redo the gardens and install a sprinkler system at the Depot Square Park, located at the Five Points intersection between routes 209 and 309.Councilman Micah Gursky made the announcement at the council meeting this week.“Betty and Lowell Koch enjoy the park, dine at the restaurant, and wanted to make sure it was in really good shape,” Gursky said. “We’ve been talking to them about the park, they expressed an interest in helping, the conversation led to making sure it’s maintained well and it always looks like a showcase, and they supported it.”Gursky added that they’re big supporters of Tamaqua and the community.“The park is a focal point of our downtown, the front door of the train station. It’s what people think of when they think of Downtown Tamaqua,” he said. “It’s an important place in Tamaqua, and a lot of people really enjoy it.”The work will be done this spring and will involve changing the layout of the garden to better accommodate the activities that go on in the park.“It will still be visually appealing, but we want it to be more useful,” said Gursky, mentioning several groups that have held events in the park, including National Night Out, and various church groups and community awareness groups.As part of the project a Wayfinding map, funded by the Morgan Foundation will also be placed in the park.Gursky said that Graver Landscaping will be doing the design and installation work.“The sprinkler system will be a golf-course style system,” he added, “Hopefully the grass will not be as brown as it has been. That’s a very hot area of the downtown, with the macadam, and the concrete. This will help.”Work began in May 2000, on what, at the time, was considered Tamaqua’s most highly visible project yet.Tamaqua borough workers began dismantling the former Hess service station at the Five Points intersection and took the lead in site preparation for the elaborate, Victorian-themed green space in the center of town.Tamaqua Depot Square Park was considered the main complement to efforts of Tamaqua SOS in its goal of restoring the 1874 Philadelphia and Reading passenger station as the hub of the community.The park and train station complex were designed to form one seamless gathering point for Schuylkill County’s first river corridor visitors center.Contributed to the project: Tamaqua Lodge #592 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Tamaqua Area High School Leadership Council, Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, Tamaqua Beautification Association and the Western PA Conservancy.The park project was coordinated by Downtown Tamaqua Inc. as part of administering the community’s Main Street Program.Donald R. Serfass and Terry Ahner contributed to this report.

An artist's rendering shows the plan for Tamaqua's Depot Park.
Tamaqua's Depot Park will be upgraded in spring. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS