The city of Allentown’s Valania Park renovation project is receiving a $250,000 boost from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Funding comes from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Funding for these types of projects comes from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Key 93), the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener) and federal funding sources.
The city has already invested more than $100,000 for new playground equipment and the creation of the engineering documents for the renovation.
“We are continually making investments in improving our parks and recreation properties,” said Mayor Ray O’Connell. “Current conditions do not meet the needs of nearby residents and visitors. Completion of this project will be a tremendous improvement.”
In a letter to the city announcing the grant award, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said, “the Department is committed to building community conservation partnerships with local governments and nonprofit organizations to protect critical natural areas and open space, develop greenways and trails, provide quality park, recreation and conservation opportunities, and to improve the quality of life in Pennsylvania's communities. Your DCNR grant award is a recognition of outstanding recreation and conservation work that should be shared with your community.”
BL Companies of King of Prussia has been contracted to re-design the park, to include removal of the current volleyball court; paving and new structures for the basketball court; removal of unstable pavilion structure; removal and replacement of old, dead/overgrown trees; construction and relocation of a new pavilion with bathrooms and storage facility; removal and reconstruction of a walking path; ADA compliance; and implementation of best management practices to address significant stormwater issues.
Demolition is expected to get underway before the end of the year with project completion in 2021.
Valania Park is a neighborhood park located off Union Street between William Street and S. 6th Street. It hosts the popular summer playground program for children ages 7-15.
The new design takes into account significant community input to create a renewed, versatile, and usable space. The public input process for the Valania Park master planning was designed to gain feedback from a variety of stakeholders of all ages, abilities, and interests.
In 2017, a steering committee was formed to oversee the Master Plan development for the project. They were tasked with leading the Public Input Process and drafting the concept sketch for the design. Bilingual letters were mailed to residents within a 2-block radius of the park (approx. 200 letters) to notify them of the planning process and upcoming public meeting dates. It also included a survey about the park, which was also made available at a kiosk in the park itself and online. The committee also reached out to local organizations that serve the community and conducted key stakeholder interviews with some. Two public meetings were held to gain public input, along with a youth workshop. Information was shared with an engineering firm and discussed with park staff in order to develop a preliminary design sketch.
Community Development Block Grant funding will be used to match the state grant.