The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 2, 2013

Park facelift planned: Somerset group reveals designs for Main Street tract

SOMERSET — After the ashes settled from a fire that gutted a borough church in 1965, a small borough park was planted in its place.

It’s tucked in the rear of a rectangular tract on West Main Street. It’s green and grassy – and too often, empty, Somerset leaders say.

But the park’s new owner, Somerset Inc., has an ambitious plan to change that. The group on Tuesday unveiled designs that add a stage for concerts, a screen for summertime movies and outdoor cafe-style seating for lunchtime dining.

“You could add a major new venue in town, whether it’s for Fire & Ice, a band in the park or other events,” Stromberg/ Garrigan & Associates landscape architect Sean Garrigan said during a park concept gathering at Somerset Trust Co. “The idea is to open up the park, make it more vibrant and inviting.”

Current designs show a small water jet fountain at the front of the park, where an entrance was landscaped with flower gardens to extend it toward West Main Street.

Rain gardens would be added for aesthetics while soaking up rainfall. At one side of the park, an elevated brick patio would be added where tables could be placed for diners to bring lunches from nearby restaurants, Garrigan added.

A small stage was depicted on the other side of the park with a painted mural behind it showing the reflection of the former Trinity Lutheran Church, which was lost in the fire. Decorative poles were shown lighting a path to Patriot Street behind the park.

Such changes would revamp the park, Somerset Inc. board member Michael Friedhofer said. The group and previous owners have tried many times to bring new life to it – a Main Street Music Series was held there for years – but it was tough to pull off and the event fizzled out five years ago, members said.

“It meant running electrical wires into the property; adding seating,” he said. “It just isn’t suitable.”

But it could be, said Alice Ireland, whose restaurant, Crazy Alice’s, sits just a few doors down.

“Movies in the park? What a great way to lure people Uptown,” she said, calling the park “a gem” in the rough.

But polishing that gem won’t be cheap – or an overnight task, Garrigan said.

A fundraising campaign is needed and would go a long way toward efforts to get state funding matches for Department of Conservation and Natural Resources aid to make the project happen, he added.

He envisions the park developing in stages, initially focusing on the park entrance, infrastructure and other groundwork.

Somerset Inc. will initially seek a minimum of $20,000 in state aid, Garrigan said. The project will require local matching funds.

“It’s going to take time,” he said.

If all goes well, the first phase construction could be under way in 2014.

Additions such as the stage would be added in the years that followed.

Somerset Inc. members said they hope to put a sign detailing plans on the park site, and perhaps inside local businesses, to drum up support.

“If people see it, I think they’ll get on board,” Ireland said. “It’s a great idea.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • mccord Gubernatorial hopeful wins mayor’s support

    Gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord has received an endorsement from Johnstown’s highest-ranking elected official.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • reading night ‘Story Laboratory’ stirs kids’ interest in reading, science

    Mad scientists and Dr. Seuss characters were the stars Thursday as Conemaugh Township Area children helped concoct mysterious potions that bend the laws of physics and learned how french fries can drive you to work.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • LCB Wine1a Does state know when to say when?

    Booze sales on Sunday have proven so popular the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is breaking a state law limiting how many stores the system can operate on the first day of the week.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Republicans tout ‘right’ credentials

    All three Republican Party candidates in Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District race attempted to distinguish themselves as the person conservative enough to represent the state’s most conservative district in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • elder abuse 1 Calling attention to elder abuse

    As far as states with the oldest populations go, Pennsylvania hovers near the top, depending on which statistical report you read. Along with an ever-growing elderly demographic comes more instances of seniors being abused or cheated out of money.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cambria adds security to thwart copper thefts

    Would-be copper thieves, be warned: Anyone trying to steal copper wiring from any of the 17 towers that make up Cambria County’s 911 communications system will be caught on camera.

    April 24, 2014

  • Commissioners praise response to bomb threat

    Two days after a bomb threat closed the Cambria County Courthouse for half a day, officials handed out accolades to those who pulled off an efficient search and quick apprehension of the alleged perpetrator.

    April 24, 2014

  • Black fly program to target river corridor

    The Cambria County commissioners Thursday entered into an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that opens the door for the state to provide black fly suppression spraying.

    April 24, 2014

  • Inmate faces sex charges

    An Altoona man was charged with rape after authorities accused him of sexually assaulting another man while both were inmates at the Cambria County Prison.

    April 24, 2014

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads