Community leaders, volunteers and donors joined together Aug. 23 to cut the ribbon on Charleroi’s new Meadow Park.
Located on the site of Charleroi’s former junior high school, the park is designed as a neighborhood asset for residents of the borough who live on Meadow, Crest and Shady avenues.
Greater Charleroi Community Development Corp. and Mon Valley Initiative originally intended to construct housing on the old school property, said Adele Hopkins, president of the CDC. After seven homes were constructed on part of the property, funding for additional housing was unavailable, she said.
The borough’s hilly topography means that recreational areas are at a premium. So instead of allowing the remaining property to sit vacant and unusable, Hopkins said, MVI and Greater Charleroi CDC developed the plan to turn it into safe, accessible greenspace.
The park includes a walking trail, benches, decorative planters and lighting and a pagoda. Planning and fundraising began in 2015 and work began in 2016 following donations from EQT Foundation, Washington Financial Charitable Foundation, Washington County Community Foundation and 84 Lumber.
Labor and additional support came from the Borough of Charleroi, Charleroi Garden Club, Mon Valley Alliance, International Union of Painters District Council 57 and Team Charleroi.
Speakers at the Aug. 23 event included Hopkins; Ellen Rossi, manager of the EQT Foundation; and Sylvia Whiten, member of the board of the Greater Charleroi CDC, speaking on behalf of the Charleroi Garden Club.
Hopkins and Rossi wielded the scissors for the formal ribbon-cutting, which was followed by a reception with refreshments.
“It’s a beautiful greenspace, and I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like two or three years from now,” Rossi said. “It’s getting some good use already now, and I hope that continues.”
Alix Garlitz, another member of the Greater Charleroi CDC, presented a dedication stone in memory of Sidonia “Sid” Simsic and Frank Nicolaus, two deceased volunteers whose efforts were instrumental to creating Meadow Park.
Other guests included Charleroi Mayor Ed Bryner; state Rep. Bud Cook; Michelle Grosso, grants associate of the Washington County Community Foundation; Leanna Spada, executive director of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce; Charleroi fire Chief Bob Whiten Jr.; and Laura R. Zinski, chief executive officer of Mon Valley Initiative.
Leaders of the Greater Charleroi CDC said that future improvements to Meadow Park are planned, including additional landscaping and enhancements to the pagoda or “pergola.”
The benches in the park were donated by community members and are dedicated in honor of Tina M. Caputo, Mr. and Mrs. N.O. Hunter, Donald J. Baker, Sean T. Whiten, Walter W. Hopkins and William “Bill” Hopkins, and Ralph Rozzi Sr. and Victoria Ducato Rozzi.