Council moves ahead with uptown park
Northampton Borough Council at its meeting last Thursday gave borough Community Planner Victor Rodite the green light to move forward with plans for an uptown park. The park, which made its debut in 2013, will include an outdoor farmers.
"If you are at $105,000, I'll go along with it, not a penny more, not one cent," Councilman Ed Pany told Rodite.
No borough tax dollars are reserved for the park; the funding will come from Northampton and a $65,000 Monroe county gaming grant.
The one-hour presentation by Rodite generated input from council members, such as council Vice President Robert McHale who indicated he is against spending 20 percent of the allocated funding for signage. There were several other issues raised, but an overall agreement was reached in terms of the number of benches and lighting. Other items will be decided later when construction bids are sought or final plans drawn up.
Council agreed borough Manager Gene Zarayko should accept grant funding since no borough money is involved. The borough will play a part in providing in-kind services, such as removing concrete foundations and grading on the property, which formerly served as Kroope's, a long-time vacant cotton goods store.
Council President John Yurish in opening comments said he initially sought to obtain the Kroppe property "to get rid of an eyesore" and later plant grass and trees.
"We have four parks," Yurish said. "There's hardly any parking there."
The uptown is located where the Roxy Theatre, several small businesses and an established Italian restaurant is.
"It's landlocked, people crossing the street," Yurish said.
The vote was 7-0 in favor of allowing Rodite to proceed forward. Zarayko said Rodite next will make his pitch to the county, after which outstanding issues will be resolved.
"I sense the fact that the borough council would like to keep the initial uptown park plan simple" Rodite said.
The plans presented propose a gazebo funded by the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce in the park's northwest corner, a 10-foot diameter circular performance slab as a simple stage that has two semi-circular terraces, upgraded and finished with stone for seating, eight sidewalk lights similar to what is at Main Street and a six-foot concrete walk, park walkway lighting, 22 evergreen trees and six shade trees, a park sign and business directory, flag pole and TV park surveillance cameras.
"It is key to bring back the spirit in the community," Rodite said. There will also be benches for sitting.
McHale questioned how Rodite's plans could fit into the proposed park, which is 90 feet by 97 feet, and whether the plan is a farmers market or a park.
"This is kind of a unique town center," Rodite mentioned
"I think it will add a little pizzaz to the uptown," Zarayko added.
Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski Sr. and Coucilman Anthony Pristash, who serve on the committee with Rodite, said it's a quiet place, but could grow. Lopsonzski envisions programs at the park during the Christmas season and schools and students performing skits at the park.