New Kensington Council awards first contract for new city center playground

New Kensington Council has awarded the first of three contracts to convert a car park into a new city center playground.

The council approved the payment of $32,175 to Derry Construction to resurface the parking lot behind the Peoples Library along Barnes Street at Eighth Street.

The city is paying for the development with a $227,000 grant from the state’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation program.

Plans for the playground date back to at least 2017, and its construction has been delayed in part because of the Covid pandemic, city officials said.

In addition to playground equipment for children, two basketball courts will be installed. About a quarter of the parking lot will be retained for use by library visitors and staff.

Derry Construction’s work will include removing 1.5 inches of the existing, crumbling asphalt and placing a new surface, City Engineer Tony Males said.

“The whole parking lot is in bad shape,” he said. This work is scheduled to begin in May.

Males said the second contract will be for playground equipment and the third for accessories such as fencing, concrete work, installing basketball hoops and painter’s lines.

The basketball courts should be operational by mid-June, Males said. Due to shipping delays, play equipment installation may take until mid-July.

At a council meeting in December, resident Melvyn Smith suggested the city consider a broader plan for the park, enlarging it and adding amenities like a spray park, a recreation area for the disabled, and a walking trail around the park.

Smith’s plan also includes closing Barnes Street at Eighth Street and going in one direction, crossing a privately owned vacant lot and connecting to an existing parklet at Fifth Avenue at Eighth Street.

The council did not discuss Smith’s proposal when voting to award the asphalt contract.

Men said the city could still consider Smith’s idea. However, the proposed changes to Barnes Street would require a traffic study.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Contributor to the Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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