Pocket Park comes to Downtown C.S.

First Posted: 4/22/2014

One of the memories Sarah Dawgert has of her life in Yardley, Pa. is a small multi-generational and multi-purpose park, known as Buttonwood .

It’s the kind of “pocket park” she’d like to see in Clarks Summit.

Dawgert moved back to the borough a few years ago, with her husband, Jim McVety and their three children, Owen, 7, Anna, 5 and Maya, 3.

“I love downtown Clarks Summit. One thing I hear time and again is what a great place this is for families,” Dawgert said. “Yet, there is surprisingly few offerings right in downtown Clarks Summit. While we have beautiful parks in the Abingtons, there is nothing downtown.”

There are virtually no communal outdoor space in the borough.

“As a result,” Dawgert said, “residents and visitors alike have limited opportunity to meet and enjoy all that the borough has to offer. … We’re really limited in what we can do with the kids. We can go to a store, event or restaurant, but then we have to leave because there’s nowhere to go with them (children) that is safe. I thought it would be great if there was a little park or little spot where people could be outside.”

Dawgert’s solution is a pocket or mini-park which she envisions as a place where you can meet up with friends or perhaps strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met.

In January 2013, she took her idea for downtown Clarks Summit to the borough council via a letter she drafted. Dawgert cited the benefits derived from of a park as a means to bring business to the downtown, and a greater sense of community and green space.

Pocket parks can be found in urban, suburban or rural areas, on public or private land and is accessible to the general public, and while they are too small for physical activities, they offer a place to sit outdoors, a green space, that can be created around an art project, monument or historic marker.

“Virginia Kehoe encouraged me to bring the idea to a council meeting,” Dawgert said. “I jumped at the chance and went to a meeting in March 2013 with this idea and presented it to the council.

“Initially I had another parcel of land in mind, but there are very few open lots in the borough, and someone on council suggested this lot on Depot (Street).”

The Maria family wanted to donate their land (located at the beginning of Depot St.) to the borough and they liked the idea of a park.

“I think it (the park) is a great addition to Clarks Summit in that there are not a lot of green spaces,” Mike Maria said.

Sarah Dawgert is the project coordinator.

Dawgert said via email, the lot was given to the borough by Darren and Lisa Maria in January 2014, she then wrote a grant for the Lackawanna County Re-invest Program. The funds received are being used for clearing and fencing the land with additional fundraising plans in the works.

“All in all, both the council and the county have been very receptive, open and helpful with the process,” Dawgert said.

Clarks Summit Mayor Patty Lawler said the park will enhance the Depot St. Sidewalk Improvement Project.

“Depot Street is going to be renovated as well in the very near future and that location of the park is really terrific and advantageous…” Lawler said.

Johnson College Architectural Drafting and Design Technology chair, John DeAngelis, and his students have donated their services and will do an architectural rendering of the park, as well as, present their ideas to the park committee.

The official park name is “The Finish Shop Pocket Park,” in honor of a business owned by the Maria family. Council President Gerrie Carey said the property was also the site of a printing shop for The Abington Journal in the late 1940s and 1950s.

“The Maria family owned and operated a woodworking shop on this site, so there is also a plan for a woodshop playhouse,” Dawgert said. “Other ideas for features for the park include a labyrinth, arboretum, gardens, picnic tables and benches, and a mural or other public art.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday, April 25 at 9:45 a.m.

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