BEAVER FALLS – Councilwoman Vanessa Taylor is among many in Beaver Falls who remember children laughing and playing at the Ruhe 5th Avenue Playground.
However, around 10 years ago, due to high levels of vandalism, the park was closed down by the city, with the space an empty field now.
Taylor, who lives in the Fifth Avenue area of the city near the former park, decided to approach some of her neighbors to form a committee in order to explore getting new equipment, in order to revive the former playground.
During the most recent city council meeting, members of this committee gave a presentation to city officials, including council, to talk about their ideas for what they would want to see from the park.
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Potential park attractions
Committee member Shenandoah Hoskinson spoke about some of the ideas for new equipment and activities they have in mind for the park.
The committee would like to have different sets of playground equipment, for different age groups of children.
Hoskinson said the committee wants to have “buddy benches” and “playful learning landscapes,” which are being worked on for the Big Beaver Falls Area School District.
She said the learning landscapes are pieces of playground equipment that encourage “imaginative play,” while also giving children a chance to learn different lessons.
Hoskinson said they will hopefully team up with Neighborhood North, in Beaver Falls, who are currently working on the learning landscapes for the school district.
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She said the committee would also like to implement equipment for children with disabilities, as she said there is really nowhere in the city for children with disabilities to go.
Hoskinson said the committee would like to place the pavilion and seating in the middle of the park, in order to prevent children from using it to climb into the park at night like before.
She said the pavilion and seating would be of metal material in order to prevent vandalism, and said the committee wants to invest in more lighting, fencing, a lock at night and two gates.
Hoskinson also said the park would likely have opening and closing times, and said she would like to see more of a police presence near the area.
She said the committee would ask local schools and organizations to help with landscaping and flowers, would like to place signs on the nearby trail telling others about the park, and would like to have the park play host to different community events and cleanups.
“It is something we want to see moving forward,” Hoskinson said. “Kids in the neighborhood need a place to play safely.”
The park is named after Charles Ruhe, who was the city clerk for Beaver Falls from 1916-29.
Need to be better neighbors
All members of council said they are in favor of the idea of reviving the park.
Mayor Kenya Johns said, as community members, the community needs to do a better job of taking care of properties like the parks, be better neighbors, and seek active engagement with children.
“The city only thrives if we’re all working towards the same goal,” she said.
Taylor said there are already people in the Fifth Avenue area who have volunteered to look after and maintain the park, stating they want a safe place for children to play to get them off the streets.
She added that it was largely people from outside the city who came in and vandalized the old park, not people in the city.
It was noted that students from Slippery Rock University are in the process of writing grant applications, on behalf of the city, in order to get funding for the playground.
2nd Avenue Playground gets ARPA funding
Johns also noted that the city was recently awarded $25,000, in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the county, to purchase more equipment for the 2nd Avenue Playground.
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Nicholas Vercilla is a staff reporter for the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.