Hammermill Playground plans move forward

LOCK HAVEN — Hammermill Playground, at Linden and South Summit streets, up the hill from First Quality, may get new play equipment and other improvements within two years, if a state grant is approved for the project.

The City Planning Commission approved the grant application Wednesday, with favorable comments.

City Planner Leonora M. Hannagan gave some statistics. This playground serves a neighborhood of about 2,000 residents, 30 percent of them under the age of 18, she said. The numbers show that this section of the city is rich in families with children.

Hammermill is one of the three city playgrounds that hosts programming as part of the Keystone Central Summer Recreation Program, Hannagan said. In 2014 and 2015, it had the most children registered in the entire program, she said, and last year, it had the second highest number of kids registered.

Hammermill does have play equipment now, but it is more than 10 years old, Hannagan said. Also, just about all of it is not handicap accessible, she said.

The plans are to keep the pavilion, the grassy play area, the ball toss area, and the tire swing which is relatively new.

All the other play equipment is to be removed and new equipment installed in its place, including a set of slides, see-saws, and three sets of swings. One of the swings would be for two people, designed so that a small child and an adult could sit in it together, facing each other.

A rubber surface would be laid underneath the play equipment, for safety should someone take a tumble. The ball toss area also would be resurfaced.

New, accessible tables would be placed in the pavilion.

Four-foot macadam walkways would be created, including a walkway to a handicap-parking stall that would be placed inside the park. No other parking spaces are planned in the park, so the bulk of the parking would be along the street, just as it is now.

Hannagan said the city is also talking with Penn State Master Gardeners about native plants that could be planted on the playground’s steep bank on South Summit Street.

All of this complies with the county’s comprehensive plan, the city’s comprehensive plan, and the city’s recreation plan which calls for making all playgrounds accessible, she said.

The city held a public hearing on the idea March 15 at the John Yost Community Center, which is in that neighborhood. Seven residents came, Hannagan said, and they were very much in favor of improving the playground.

The cost is estimated at $160,000. The grant the city hopes to win would pay for half the cost, and the city could use Community Development Block Grant dollars to pay for the rest, Hannagan said. The city also would provide in-house services like engineering and landscaping, she said.

With the planning commission’s approval, and with city council already giving the nod to the project, she will now apply for the grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, through its Community Conservation Partnership Program.

The grant process takes time, she said, but if everything goes forward as hoped, the playground could have a new look in 2019.

The planning commission also elected officers Wednesday, with Jann Meyers re-elected as chair and Mary Coploff as vice chair.