Planning for the park
Concerns about the future of the park were raised by neighborhood resident and Tribune Executive Editor Pat Bywater. Pointing out that the project could eliminate the only public park in the city’s north end, Bywater said that he hopes MAWA will take aesthetics into consideration — and that residents of the neighborhood will have some input on the landscaping plan. “This may be too soon,” he said, “but I don’t want to be too late. I want a design plan that will benefit both the neighborhood and Allegheny College.”
“During construction, the park won’t be there,” Nold said. And once the new tanks are in place, extremely preliminary plans call for them to be surrounded by security lighting and a security fence. “I would prefer to not have plantings,” he said.
MAWA has legally owned the property since July 1992; the city retained surface rights to the property when ownership was transferred to MAWA. As part of the agreement signed in connection with the sale, “the parties agree to consult and to reasonably cooperate to accommodate the continued use thereof for water and for recreational, target composting or park purposes.” According to the agreement, if the consulting and cooperating result in a structure being removed or relocated, it must be done at MAWA’s expense.
“MAWA replaces ‘as-is,’” Nold explained.
“This is what you have right now,” he continued as commission members looked at color photographs of the swing set, two play areas, tennis/basketball court, bicycle rack and pavilion now in place, as well as a park storage building on the site that is currently not used and disconnected water service pipes. “Is this what you want to have in the future?”
Enter consultation and cooperation.
In January, City Manager Joe Chriest said that the city is still researching the deeds originally transferring property at the site to the city to see if there are any restrictions on the use of the land. At the time, Chriest said that the uncertain future of the park will not have any impact on MAWA’s ability to proceed with the project.
“This is not an issue that we’ve talked about at council,” Mayor Christopher Soff said Monday. “We’re still waiting on the final comprehensive plan report that will give us the road map for the direction that Meadville stakeholders have told the city that they want the city to pursue in years to come. Once we’ve seen that, then we can evaluate our position on outdoor parks like the one at H.P. Way.”
The update of the city’s comprehensive plan is now in the final editing phase and is expected to be presented by the commission to council for approval in the near future.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.