Ashley Residents Worried About Playground Plan

March 13, 2019

ASHLEY — Residents of the borough on Tuesday grilled council members and the borough’s economic development consultant about controversial plans to build a new playground near the site of the former Huber Breaker.

They expressed worry about possibly contaminated soil from years of coal mining operations. They talked about fears of having children play near the asbestos in the breaker’s former smokestack, which remains standing.

Jason Fitzgerald, president of consulting firm PennStrategies, assured residents that oversight agencies, such as the state Department of Environmental Protection, are involved every step of the way.

“They would never allow a playground where it wasn’t safe,” Fitzgerald said.

The state Department of Conservation of Natural Resources and the state Department of Community and Economic Development, along with the federal National Park Service, are also involved in the planning, he said.

The new $450,000 park is being planned to replace Centennial Park on Main Street. The land of the existing park, owned by the borough, is being marketed for private commercial development.

Some residents worried that the borough will close the park, then not follow through with plans to build a new one. Some asked what would happen if they close the park, then state and federal agencies determine the proposed land is a safety hazard.

Councilman John Gibbons assured a new park would be built because it’s required by law since state and federal money was used to build Centennial Park in 1970.

“It has to be a new one, better than the old one,” Gibbons said.

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