The city of Williamsport hopes to add amenities for recreational use at Newberry Park, also known as Phillip E. Preziosi Park, city officials say.
As the city seeks a $500,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, four possible additions are being considered: a splash pad, pickleball court, basketball courts and youth soccer fields.
All the projects will cost about $1.1 million, according to August “Skip” Memi, executive director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
The splash pad will be the second in the city – with a successful splash pad installed at Shaw Park in the east end of the city.
These are water spots that provide a mini water park experience. Mats are play areas with zero depth. Particularly enjoyable because of its accessibility to all people and abilities, the pad would provide a place to cool off in the heat of summer for those families with children, including those with limited physical abilities.
A pickleball court would provide a place for all generations to play the increasingly popular sport, according to the grant application.
Based on the Sports and Fitness Industry Association’s 2022 Sports, Fitness and Recreation Topline Participation Report, pickleball has 4.8 million participants nationwide.
In Brooklyn in the summer, for example, the courts are full. The sport has seen almost 40% growth in the last two years. It is a low-impact game that is beneficial for players who maintain healthy hearts, bones, joints and muscles. It’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart rate up, leading to better cholesterol and blood pressure and sugar levels.
Basketball courts are popular in the city. The courts nearby at Memorial Park are always full, as are those at Lose and other parks. Increasing heart health, improving metabolism, strengthening bone structure may be among the most promising benefits, but they also provide room for the young athlete to excel and train.
Youth soccer fields have the potential to host community events, tournaments and leagues. The fields offer fitness and wellness opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels.
The park itself is a safe community gathering place, offering a variety of long-standing recreational assets and not far from nearby Memorial and Elm Parks and various Williamsport Area School District school buildings.
The Lycoming County Planning and Community Development Department conducted a public survey to determine the most important issues for county residents. Parks and trails and outdoor recreation were among the top choices for pollsters.
The $500,000 grant application approved by the City Council will be used to try to get the Keystone Communities Program grant with $688,000 in federal Community Development Grant money to serve as a possible match for the grant, Memi said.
The city received assistance in applying for the grants from Delta Development Group, a city consulting firm working on its behalf.
The park is about 3 acres, shaped like an L and bounded by Seneca Avenue, Cherry Alley, Linn Street and Baker Street. In the southern part of the park there is a perimeter pedestrian walkway and a playground for children from 2 to 5 and from 6 to 12 years.