Dogged determination by several Emlenton Borough residents has refurbished an old public playground and added new equipment, ground cover and more.
"The Hughes Park work was just recently finished and it's all brand new now," said Amy Whitehill, vice president of Emlenton Borough Council. "The playground equipment that had been there was more than 50 years old."
Four years ago, Whitehill, borough manager Nancy Marano and others teamed up to renovate the 6.5-acre park, the community's largest public recreation facility. The effort was prompted, in part, by the closing a few years earlier of the borough's public swimming pool.
Funding for the project came from an $80,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources with the remaining portion of $20,000 paid by the borough.
The project included a full replacement of playground equipment, walkways and a new playground surface. The facility is fully handicapped-accessible.
Kept in place at the park were picnic tables and a large pavilion.
One other playground-related amenity was also retained for nostalgic purposes.
"We kept the old swings. One of them squeaks when a child is swinging on it and when I was a child living near the park, my mother would hear that squeak and know where we were," said Whitehill. "When you hear it now, that is evidence that youngsters are using the park."
There may be more recreational projects coming up, said Whitehill.
A long range plan created in 2015 earmarks the former swimming pool to be refashioned into a splash park. There may also be a dog park, walking trail and upgrades to existing picnic areas in the future.
"It depends on the funding," said Whitehill, adding the borough continues to apply for grant monies.