Five years after the original H.P. Way Park was removed to make way for new water tanks and its aging playground equipment deemed too unsafe to be worth saving, the new H.P. Way Park was dedicated.
Community members and officials from the City of Meadville, Meadville Area Water Authority and Crawford County gathered near the corner of Highland Avenue and Limber Road on Friday evening for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the recently completed park. Fittingly, the remarks offered by several speakers from beneath the park’s new pavilion were delivered
to the steady beat of a bouncing basketball and the music of young children playing.
Thirteen-year-old Trevor Rhoades had come to the park with his uncle to play some one-on-one shortly before the crowd of about 25 gathered near the pavilion.
“I’ve played here a few times,” the Saegertown resident said. Other courts might be closer to his house or to where his uncle lives in Meadville, but Rhoades offered a straightforward reason for coming to H.P Way Park: it’s the nicest court in town.
Supporting evidence was easy for Rhoades — or anyone who has visited the park recently — to find: the fence that encloses the court, the clean playing surface, the well-maintained appearance throughout the park that is smaller than its pre-water tanks predecessor but that packs a lot into a tiny area.
The new basketball court, the 20-by-20 pavilion, plus a parking lot and landscaping completed over the summer joined the playground that was installed in 2016. The resulting park is just one-third the size of the original one, but packs lots of opportunities for play into its smaller area.
In addition, a trail that runs behind the water tanks to the site of the old reservoir connects the park to a walking trail, overlook area and recreational field, MAWA Vice Chairman Dennis Finton reminded the crowd gathered for the occasion.
The long process of completing the park was kept on course thanks to a consistent guiding principle, Finton said: “Let’s do this the right way.”
What followed, he added, was “a fantastic cooperative effort” between the various public agencies involved as well as the members of the public — including several neighborhood children — who participated in planning sessions to help design the park.
Several of the officials present for the event live nearby the park today and recalled playing there when they were young.
“This was my playground,” said Crawford County Commissioner Christopher Soff. “In the ‘70s, I spent Monday through Friday here all summer long. It’s where you came to meet your friends and you could buy milk from the shed — 5 cents for white milk, 10 cents for chocolate milk, if you were good to the counselor they’d put it in the freezer for you.”
City Councilman Sean Donahue lives within walking distance of the park and similarly recalled the role the park played in his youth.
“I love basketball, so I like to see the kids play basketball,” he said following the ribbon cutting. “This is where I played when I was a kid, and my kids are playing here now.”
Finton summed up the attitude of many of those assembled, surveying the park as he delivered his remarks.
“I am proud of this corner of our community,” he said.
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.