ALLENTOWN, Pa. - How can Andre Reed Park better serve the public now and in the future?
That was the central thesis behind the first of two public meetings hosted by the City of Allentown. The meeting, held Tuesday night next to the park at Louis E. Dieruff High School, sought the input of residents for the city's master plan for the East Side recreational area.
"This is a very popular park," said Lindsay Taylor, director of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. "We want to hear from the public how the park can be used 10, 20, 30 years from now."
The park features four tennis courts, two basketball courts, one baseball field and one softball field.
Taylor said that there is a state grant in the amount of $250,000 for a spray park/pool to replace the existing pool, but the project would cost about $900,000, leaving the remaining portion to be allocated in the city's budget planning process.
Last year some neighbors complained about late night activity and noisy disturbances at the park. In response, former Mayor Ed Pawlowski ordered three of the four basketball rims removed.
To help direct the discussion Tuesday night, the department formulated four questions that residents could answer through a group discussion:
- Do you visit Andre Reed Park? If yes, why? If no, why not?
- What do you think are the park's assets/strengths?
- What are its issues/challenges?
- What types of improvements would you like to see made at the park in terms of priorities?
Responses included the following:
- The four tennis courts should remain.
- A centralized storage facility has merit.
- A grass infield to replace the dirt infield fro the baseball field.
- Limit parking to residents with permits on the south side of East Tilghman Street, while allowing the north side to remain open to park visitors.
- A higher fence around home plate to catch batted foul balls.
- A modification to the baseball and softball outfield dimensions.
Tuesday night's meeting was attended by Councilmen Daryl Hendricks and Edward Zucal, with an appearance made by Councilman Courtney Robinson. ASD Director Cheryl Johnson-Watts also attended the event.
A second public meeting, which will be held at the park itself, weather permitting, is scheduled for May 8.
In addition, the city will meet with various city and civic groups, such as the police department and the East Side Youth Center, to gather their feedback.
The city will continue to gather feedback through the end of the summer. Taylor said the department expects to present a final plan to city council in November.
The park was built at the turn of the 20th century and was known for years as Irving Park. In 2014 it was renamed Reed Park in honor of the NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver who graduated from Dieruff. Reed, who played college football at Kutztown University, was selected in the fourth round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He played 15 of his 16 years in the league with them, appearing in four Super Bowls.
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