Plaza dedicated at public ceremony

By on September 19, 2012

Ephrata Borough Manager Robert Thompson addresses the crowd at last week's dedication of the new Whistlestop Plaza on East Main Street. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Last Wednesday marked the formal dedication of Ephrata’s new Whistle Stop Plaza, a green space in front of the railroad station made possible through funding from a $179,595 Pennsylvania Hometown Streets initiative grant and the Urban Enhancement Program. Ephrata Borough supplemented this grant to provide a total of $400,000 for the project.

"We were very pleased with the turnout," said Marsha DiBonaventuro of Downtown Ephrata Inc. She said about 50 people were present to celebrate the completion of the plaza, which was named to reflect the history of its location.

"There is comfort and security in knowing how we connect with the past," said DiBonaventuro. "It provides explanation and some teachable moments, of who and why we are."

Project Manager Dave Burkholder said he felt a sense of fulfillment in seeing final product, but that "having personal knowledge of the time and effort spent on bringing this project to fruition certainly amplifies that level of contentment," he said.

"Although parking spaces were sacrificed, a necessary improvement was created providing some much needed green space downtown," said Burkholder.

The concrete courtyard provides a place for the public to gather or to rest, he said, and it invites visitors from Main Street into the Visitor’s Center. Walkers, runners and bikers can now enjoy the extended rail trail, which was incorporated into the plaza project.

"This project certainly enhances the downtown, but the site will continue to receive additional attention over time," said DiBonaventuro. "For example, already many citizens have requested more seating. This is very positive, as it shows a desire for the space to be used as a place to linger and enjoy."

Burkholder said they are considering different seating and shading options.

Flyway Excavating Inc. of Lititz was the general contractor for the project. More PLAZA, page A18

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