Playground plans discussed in Akron

By on August 29, 2012

By: JAMES MCGINNIS Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Plans to further develop the borough’s Colonial Park dominated discussion at the Aug. 13 Akron council meeting.

Situated on 2.3 acres of land off Colonial Drive in the northeast section of town, Colonial Park is still largely undeveloped. Borough officials planted three fast-growing maple trees on the parcel earlier this summer and intend to install playground equipment, picnic tables and benches by next summer.

Once this is accomplished, a paved, multi-use path will be constructed along the western side of the park that will connect Colonial Drive with the Warwick-Ephrata Rail Trail. The trail will eventually connect the southern end of Ephrata with the Warwick Township Municipal campus. Officials in Ephrata, Ephrata Township and Akron plan to build the section from the southern end of the Ephrata Linear Park to Fulton Street in Akron when PennDOT replaces the bridge on Route 272 with a concrete tunnel next year.

Colonial Park is one of three public parks in Akron. The others are Loyd Roland Memorial Park, situated on the east end of the borough, and a hockey court and playground off Broad Street.

Preliminary plans presented to the borough council by Mayor John McBeth anticipate the construction of a playground with swings, a slide and jungle gym on the north side of the parcel, with three picnic tables being located to the south off Colonial Drive. Two of the trees will be in the playground area, while two others will be on land between the connector trail and an apartment complex located immediately west of the new park.

However, McBeth cautioned that the plans are not final and acknowledged that changes might be made to meet safety regulations, be more aesthetically pleasing or to address privacy concerns that residents of the apartments may have.

"I don’t intend for this to be a construction drawing," he told council. "It was to show that we can get more of the equipment into the shaded area and have less of a box. I think we should use as much shade as possible."

Councilman John Taylor said that he was pleased with the drawing and favored submitting it to borough manager Dan Guers, who, in turn, would give it to the playground association to make any necessary changes.

Taylor also added that he wants to begin construction on the park before the rail trail is built.

"We really need to get moving," he noted. "Once the rail trail and park are in, it will look really nice."

McBeth and resident Brody Simmons agreed that construction on Colonial Park could begin as early as this fall.

"I don’t see why we have to scrap this until next spring," McBeth said. "Will council at least consider the idea?"

Simmons said that he would like to see the park finished while his two children are still young enough to enjoy the playground equipment.

"There are a lot of little ones around," he said. "Could we get this done soon?"

However, resident Jesse Weaver, who has volunteered his time to help develop the park, said that he thinks some changes could be made to the drawing.

"I think it (the equipment and picnic tables) could be more spread out," he explained. "It doesn’t have to be so boxed together."

In other news, Guers also noted that the street hockey court at the Broad Street playground had recently been resurfaced and fixed up, and added that town crosswalks were to be repainted in time for the anticipated start of the 2012-13 school year on Aug. 27. More AKRON, page A6

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