HAMBURG, Pa. - A local park is in for a big upgrade. The borough of Hamburg is getting a sizable grant to make improvements to a park that's named for a hometown hero.
"It's very competitive, but the people that grade these grants said that this was a very worthy project," said state Sen. Dave Argall, a Republican who represents Berks and Schuylkill counties.
Argall said it was an easy decision to get behind Hamburg's grant application to make improvements to Etchberger Memorial Park.
"This is a very busy park and, of course, it honors one of Hamburg's authentic American heroes," Argall said.
Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger grew up in Hamburg and lived there until his death in 1968. He died saving three men during the Vietnam War.
In 2011, the park was dedicated to the late sergeant. His son, Cory, said the grant will help keep the park a vital part of the community.
"The fact that we can now have a grant to update it and make it better for others to come, and his part of legacy is really what's important to me," said Cory Etchberger.
Hamburg Borough Council President Joshua Shaffer said the borough is ecstatic about the grant.
"It's a 50% match, so it's going to be almost $400,000 of improvements here," said Shaffer.
A lot of the equipment doesn't meet today's standards. The grant will allow the borough to make necessary upgrades, which hasn't been done since 1997.
Plans include demolishing the old equipment and adding two new play areas, walkways and some ADA-accessible parking spaces near the pool. The borough is also going to address the park's current drainage issues.
"It's a much needed upgrade and modernization of the park and playground," said Argall.
Shaffer said the borough hopes to begin demolition in early 2020 and it wants to have the majority of construction and upgrades completed by the end of next year.