Park issues recent focus for Tyrone Borough Council

Despite the recent damp spell, the park season is just about upon us and Tyrone Borough Council has focused on several park-related issues in recent meetings.
Just last week, council took action on an issue that councilman Don Boytim had brought up earlier this month. He was seeking to have part of Reservoir Park opened before the traditional Memorial Day opening and then left opened after the usual closing of the park at the end of September.
Boytim told The Daily Herald before last week’s council meeting, “It’s a community park and it’s used pretty heavily all year round.”
He said people like to walk and ride their bikes. He said new equipment had been installed at the park in recent years and suggested the park needed to be open more for people to use it. He also expressed concern about safety for people who park vehicles along the highway outside the park.
“I don’t feel they need to park along the highway or the swimming pool, or table A in order to walk and use the facility,” said Boytim. “For somebody who has children, especially young children, to make them unload their children along the highway, I think is a big safety issue.”
Boytim presented a request for a vote on the issue to council at last week’s meeting. He originally asked for the main gate to be opened to allow access to the pavilion 1/playground area starting on March 1. He also asked that area be kept open until the end of October. The rest of the park would open as usual on Memorial Day and be closed at the end of September.
After some discussion, Boytim revised his motion to have the pavilion 1/playground area opened on April 1. Council approved the motion by a 7 to 1 vote with vice president Bill Latchford opposing the move.
At the May 1 meeting, Highway Superintendent Verden Latchford opposed the move because of damage that could be done to the park while it is unattended as park attendants only work from May to September. Councilman Latchford also said there was plenty of parking and he reiterated other concerns during council discussion at the May 8 meeting. Councilman Latchford was concerned about possible damage and trash at an unattended park and costs involved in someone having to open and close the gate.
After the meeting, Boytim said, “I was very pleased with the backing of the council and the community. I just think it will be used more and it’s there for the community. I just appreciate everyone’s vote on that and I’m sure it will be well received.”
The move means the lower part of the park is now open from 8 a.m. to dusk while the remainder of the park will open on May 29.
There have been other moves concerning Reservoir Park in recent months. Lights have been installed and the highway department took out 78 trees at the recommendation of the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources. The trees will be replaced with new trees that are native to the area. Earlier this year council also approved an application for Community Development Block Grant money that earmarked $65,000 for renovations to Reservoir Park.
Earlier this year, Boytim had also expressed concern to council over safety at another borough park. Boytim wanted to see what could be done about the condition of the sidewalk at Soldier’s Park. Since then the highway department has done some work to improve the area.
In an interview last week, Boytim reiterated he’d like to see a new sidewalk along Soldier’s Park. In April, Council was informed a project to replace the curbs on 14th Street and Lincoln Avenue, the eight-foot sidewalks and the five-foot asphalt sidewalks inside the park would cost about $90,000.
On April 10, Borough manager Sharon Dannaway advised council the project was “cost prohibitive.” She suggested the project could be done in stages and use borough employees. The borough’s consulting engineer Ray Myers advised council of a gas main under the sidewalk. He attributed some of the erosion to the gas main and advised the borough to contact the gas company before any renovations to the area. Council has taken no action on the issue since being made aware of its options in April.
Last week, Boytim commented, “We’d have to try to get some monies for, hopefully through a grant, or we’d have to try to budget for it under our own budget when it comes up for discussion.”
He said of Soldier’s Park, “I think it could be a very appealing park for people to use, which is in the center of our community.”
On May 1, borough Council approved a request for an Eagle Scout project for improvements (bench installation) at Soldier’s Park. Those improvements were contingent on the scout receiving approval from scouting officials and independently raising approximately $1,700.