The new Topton Community Park was unveiled in a “soft opening” Tuesday at a site near the borough building, officials announced.
In part due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, borough officials decided against the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We had a soft opening now,” said Trynda Schoonover, recreation coordinator, “and we will have a grand opening in spring.”
While there was no formal opening program, the word got around and a group of kids showed up after school to try out the new playground equipment.
Built at a cost of around $625,000, the park features a basketball court, a sand volleyball court and a pavilion.
An age-appropriate playground for children 2 to 5 years old has a pirate ship and swings. A section of the playground designed for children 5 to 12 years old has two towers connected by an elevated bridge and slides, both open and closed.
The new park replaces the former community park, located in the 200 block of South Callowhill Street. The old park was demolished to make way for the new one.
Construction on the new park began in April, but was delayed somewhat by equipment delays in the wake of the virus, Schoonover said. It was completed in mid-August.
Schoonover thanked the community for its patience during the extended period of construction.
“Given that so many venues are closed,” she said, “we see the park as a place where kids can burn off some energy.”
The pavilion will be available for rental next season. It will also provide a venue for the concerts and a movie that are part of the borough’s summer recreation program.
Mayor Thomas A. Biltcliff III said updated equipment in the new park replaces aging wooden structures on the old one.
A rubberized surface replaces mulch and the wooden structures, which were no longer insurable, have been replaced by metal and plastic equipment.
“The more things a community has for kids, the better,” said Biltcliff, who noted the basketball court was getting a lot of use only one day after the gates were opened. “Given what’s going on in our country these days, it’s nice to see something good happening.”
The park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., officials said.
The cost of the park was underwritten by grants from the state departments of Community and Economic Development and Conservation and Natural Resources and private donations, officials said.
Semmel Excavating Inc. of Allentown did the construction work. The borough’s engineers, Barry Isett and Associates of Allentown, also worked on the project.