Bethlehem Press

Monday, September 16, 2019
CACLV Director Anna Smith mentions the Northside neighborhood’s desire to build a strong community.” CACLV Director Anna Smith mentions the Northside neighborhood’s desire to build a strong community.”
Bethlehem City Council Member J. William Reynolds thanks the Northside Neighborhood 2027 Program for carrying out such a difficult plan.” Bethlehem City Council Member J. William Reynolds thanks the Northside Neighborhood 2027 Program for carrying out such a difficult plan.”
PRESS PHOTOS BY TIM HEALYOfficials, council members, residents and children crowd around the new playground at Friendship Park. PRESS PHOTOS BY TIM HEALYOfficials, council members, residents and children crowd around the new playground at Friendship Park.

Friendship Park gets a facelift

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by Tim Healy Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Bethlehem officials, council members and residents gathered at Northside’s Friendship Park recently to witness the reveal of new playground equipment. The opening was part of the Northside 2027 Neighborhood Plan aimed to strengthen residential areas north of downtown Bethlehem.

“Of all the recreational opportunities across the city, our neighborhood parks are, in my opinion, the most important,” said Recreation Director Jodi Evans. “They are a place for play, for exercise and for community gathering. For many children, friendships and even life-long bonds are formed at our parks.”

“When we first discussing upgrades to Friendship Park, the original thought was to tear out and replace the existing structure,” said Mayor Robert Donchez. “After closer examination and additional discussion, it was decided to do some rehab on the existing area and give the park what it needed: age appropriate play for the 2 to 5 year old population.”

The new equipment is a Little Tikes Builder, the flagship model of Little Tikes. The playground resembles a treehouse with artificial rocks, stumps and logs that appear realistic, but require no maintenance. The equipment rests on a rubber, floor-in-place surface, increasing safety for its users.

According to Donchez, “The structure is also ADA compliant with a universal transfer station and two musical pieces to stimulate a child’s musical creativity.”

The addition to Friendship Park is not only a new source of recreation, but an incentive for residential buyers as well as a neighborhood adhesive.

“This is a quality of life issue, a neighborhood issue. To have a park come back to life like this really attracts middle class families to the community and to the city,” said Donchez.

According to CACLV Director Anna Smith, “When the city of Bethlehem began the neighborhood based planning process for the Northside 2027 Neighborhood Plan, residents at every meeting emphasized the importance of community building. Neighbors expressed a desire to know the families living next door and build a tightly knit, diverse community.”

“Investment in public spaces like Friendship Park is much more than the purchase of playground equipment,” said Smith. “It’s an investment in community building and the health and safety of this city’s young people.”

Friendship Park is located at 231 E. North Street in Bethlehem. For more information on the Northside 2027 Neighborhood Plan, visit https://www.northside2027.org.