Father, son propose memorial park in Sewickley

August 8, 2018

The vacant land at One Waterworks Road isn’t a park, in the official sense. But for a long time, children in the neighborhood have treated it like one, holding frequent games of Wiffle ball on the 11-acre parcel.

When Joe Coyle III, 12, first brought up the idea of turning the area into a park to remember his friend Owen Galluzzo, his father supported him. Owen Galluzzo died in August 2014 at the age of 9 after suffering a massive stroke following open heart surgery. He was born with a congenitive heart condition.

The Coyles first discussed their idea with neighbors, who also offered positive feedback.

Then, on July 10, they pitched their plan for the Owen “The World” Memorial Wiffle Ball Park to Sewickley Council.

“There’s an open area that is used by the borough, and nobody has done anything with it for several years. I want to make something in memory of Owen Galluzzo. It’s a Wiffle ball field, and I want to create this for his love of baseball,” Coyle III told council at a July 10 meeting.

According to his father, Joe Coyle Jr., the vacant parcel features a perfect layout for Wiffle ball games. The distance from the proposed home plate area to the edge of the gravel measures about 150 feet in both left and right field, and it “curves around just like a normal outfield,” Coyle Jr. said.

The parcel has largely flown under the borough’s radar for the past several years, leaders said. It’s now a mixture of grass, gravel and chunks of asphalt, and Mayor Brian Jeffe pointed out that paving contractors have used it as a dumping zone.

Still, Coyle Jr. said that children of all ages play there. He added that his son just wants to take things a step further and turn it into “something real.”

The borough currently owns the land, but the Coyles are ready to assume responsibility for maintenance if it becomes a park. Coyle Jr. told the Sewickley Herald he already has begun compiling a list of potential sponsors that might want to help fund the effort.

He hopes to have council’s final approval in August and wants to start approaching sponsors after receiving the official go-ahead. Councilman John Dunn said in an interview that council was very receptive to the Coyles’ proposal.

″(The parcel) is a dead zone right now,” he said. “I’m on the planning committee, and we don’t have anything scheduled for that area.”

Ideally, Coyle Jr. hopes the Wiffle ball park can be ready by spring 2019. But in the meantime, he said that neighborhood children are going to continue using the area

Matthew Galluzzo, Owen’s father, said he would love to see the memorial park come to fruition.

“It would be an incredible honor for our son to be remembered in this way. The catalyst for this effort, Joey Coyle, was a classmate (and) Little League teammate with Owen. And, since Owen’s passing, baseball and Wiffle ball have been central to the grieving process for many who knew Owen,” Galluzzo said.

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