Stay & play: Parks offer destinations close to home

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If you’re looking for a location to hold your summer family picnic close to home instead of driving a long distance, did you ever think about holding your event at one of the parks operated by the Borough of Punxsutawney?

There are five parks that may be reserved free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, said Mary Neal, borough secretary.

The parks that are operated by the borough are Barclay Square, Harmon Field, Patsy’s Park, the Thomas Barletta Skate Park and the Carter Avenue (Chris Mills) Playground.

Neal said the borough prides itself on operating safe and clean parks for the public, as its Workplace Safety Committee inspects the parks, playgrounds and other facilities on a regular basis.

Crews check to see that swings are secure, bolts are tight, sidewalks are clean, garbage has been collected, restrooms are clean and secure, and anything else is in order.

If there’s a hazard, or a piece of playground equipment needs repairs, Public Works repairs, cleans or replaces the item within 24 hours of notification.

“Graffiti is always a tough thing to deal with because it’s hard to remove,” Neal said. “There are certain areas and certain parks that are more prone to graffiti than others.”

Neal said the Thomas Barletta Skate Park is 2.6-acres that was donated by the late Thomas Barletta in 1998 for development of a skateboarding facility.

The site preparation began in 2003 with construction of concrete slabs for the skate park. The inline hockey rink was completed in 2004.

Neal said the skating and bicycle ramps and equipment were installed in June 2004 by council members, borough employees and community volunteers.
The dedication was held in October 2004, and the inline hockey rink was completed in 2010.

The skate park is in really good condition, as it has held up well over the years, Neal said.

“We put the equipment together ourselves, and it was a chore,” she said.
She said the hockey rink can also be used by soccer players for practice by bouncing the ball off of the wall.

Neal said the Carter Avenue Playground — also known as the Chris Mills Playground — came about as the result of 1996’s flood and was purchased through FEMA/PEMA hazard mitigation. The playground equipment was donated and constructed by Dr. Gary Buffington in memory of Mills, his son-in-law, in 2003.

During a recent inspection of the parks, Neal said she found almost everything to be ship-shape, except some of the fall surface that needs to be refurbished. She also inspected the restrooms, which were found to be in good condition.

To reserve one the borough’s parks, call the borough office at 938-4480 for more information.

Neal said a certificate of liability from one’s insurance company is required to use the park on a reserved basis, with the borough named as a co-insurer and is the only way to obtain use of the restrooms.

The restrooms are locked unless the park has been reserved ahead of time.

Many of the parks are protected by video surveillance equipment, and anyone who is seen vandalizing any of the borough’s parks will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, Police Chief Tom Fedigan said.