John Freed Way officially opened in Slatington
John Freed Way is officially open for parking in Slatington between Short Alley and West Church Street. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS
The new 13-space parking lot on West Church Street in Slatington was officially opened Friday night as the John Freed Way.
During the borough’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Freed’s wife, Alice Billman; children Jody and Ronnie Freed; three of Freed’s brothers, Todd, Danny and David; several grandchildren; and great-grandchildren were in attendance, along with members of the community who gathered to remember Freed on Friday evening.
“We would like to thank you, the Borough of Slatington, and friends for recognizing John Freed for the hard work and dedication he gave to this great town of Slatington. His memory will live on,” Ronnie Freed said.
“He was a hard worker,” Billman said.
“I’m glad someone recognized a worker from this town,” she said.
The high-school-sweetheart couple married just after graduation but began their relationship just after Billman moved to the Slatington area when she was 14.
“He was about 15 and used to work at the slot car place. He would run it and I’d go in to hang out,” she said.
“We had our first child, Ronnie, at 20, and when I was 22 I had Jody. We moved to the Slatington Reservoir, and that’s where we raised our children,” she said.
The pair was married for 23 years before Freed passed away.
“This was the alley were he used to get yelled at all the time,” she said.
“He was a character, he was a clown and such a gentle person. I think this is great, we feel honored,” she said.
Freed’s daughter Jody’s voice filled with emotion as she remembered her father.
“My dad was a good man. He loved this town,” she said.
“I think it’s remarkable. It’s a great honor in his name.”
The new parking lot was constructed with grant funds received earlier in the year with finishing touches added this fall by S&G Asphalt Services LLC, which had been contracted for the job in December 2016.
The parking spaces just behind Main Street between Short Alley and West Church Street will be added to the borough’s liquid fuels funds provided from the state, borough council member Bryon Reed said.
“It is a ‘way’ between two streets so we get to add it to the liquid fuels,” he said.
“I’ve known Johnny since I was a little kid but it was actually Gwen (Gwyneth Jones, former borough council president) who came up with the John Freed Way. There are two other ‘ways’ in town, and it was her idea to name them after people here,” he said.
The newly named John Freed Way joins Otto Altrichter Way, between Center Alley to East Church Street and Charles Moyer Way, between Main Street to Middle Alley.
Borough Manager Judith Danko said the new parking lot will benefit both residents and businesses alike.
“It’s going to be a wonderful attribute for downtown,” she said. “It’s easily accessed and we are very excited for the businesses and residents.”