WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Summer and parks go hand-in-hand unless the park is in such disrepair that no one wants to go there. That was the case for a local park but as Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us, a grand reopening was held Tuesday to unveil a major transformation.
The sound of children’s laughter is once again filling Spruce Street Park. The playground in Wilkes-Barre has undergone a major makeover. Tony Brooks served as point person on Wilkes-Barre City Council and said, “The mayor came to me and said ‘What parks in your district need help’ and I said Spruce Street.”
Old metal sliding boards are replaced with new ones made of smooth plastic. The pavilion has been painted. So has a blank wall that now sports a family-friendly mural. It’s a welcoming image at a park that for years didn’t feel so welcoming. Christina Reynolds who lives near the park said, “The equipment was in disrepair. There was graffiti. Things that I didn’t want my kids reading.”
Four years ago, Eyewitness News reported on the rundown condition of the park which at the time was overgrown with brush, weeds and trees. Just to walk through it was a safety issue. Rolling Mill Hill Residents’ Association President Linda Joseph said, “Railroad ties were all on here and they were dilapidated and they were dangerous actually. It really did, it needed an upgrade.”
And it got one, thanks to a $153,000 Federal Community Development Block Grant, months of planning and about a year of work. The park also includes wide sidewalks compliant with the American Disabilities Act.
It’s more than just the walkways that are ADA accessible. A couple of picnic tables like this one have an extra extension to them so that anyone in a wheelchair can come up and use it. Christina Solomon said, “My sister is, so it’s nice to bring her here if she wants to come.” Ms. Solomon who lives in the Rolling Mill Hill section is also eager to bring her son and daughter to the revamped park. “It’s nice to have a safe place to come right in the community,” Ms. Soloman said.
Ditto for Ms. Reynolds and her three children. Describing the revamped park she said, “It’s so beautiful and clean and fresh.” Her 9-year-old son Max added, “It’s just a really nice park and I like spending time with my family like my brother and sister and my mom.”
Spruce Street Park isn’t the only Wilkes-Barre park getting spruced-up. Weissman Park on Scott Street is expected to have its grand reopening next month while work on other city parks is also planned.