WARREN, Pa. – The City of Warren Parks and Recreation Commission approved a conceptual site plan for Washington Park developed by Mackin Engineering at Tuesday’s special meeting.
The directive is to move forward preparing the site plan, with the idea that it will be an extended period of time before any sort of development goes forward.
The three options include – improvements to existing roads and enhancing trailheads, the second option includes the steps taken in the first plus improving the trail system and the third option would make the trails shared use and open them to mountain bikers.
Commission chair Mike Suppa is in favor of park expansion.
“I’ve always thought Washington Park is a magical place,” he said. “One of my long laments is its underutilization. The potential for greater usage is there. Ninety-five percent of the people that go don’t realize it’s more than just the overlook. If funds are available we have the opportunity to make it more. I would think the founders would want it to be an active park. I would like to see the park be more than a 15-minute destination.”
Not everyone was in favor, however, as some members expressed their concerns with potential park expansion.
“I’ve always seen this as a passive park,” said Mark Zavinski. “I don’t really think that creating an active park is something we really need to get into. My opinion is we shouldn’t expand to another park. As time gets tougher, we need to focus on the parks that we have in the city.”
Fellow committee member Kirk Johnson said he has always seen the park as more of a passive park.
“Washington Park is one of our last refuges,” Johnson said. “The park will no longer be suitable as a prime destination for people in our care. The value of Washington Park is and always has been as a peaceful retreat.”
Johnson proposed a nature preserve as opposed to the options that were being currently presented.
Concerns from the public and nearby property owners were also expressed, which included the issues of parking, as well as security of the park. There are also concerns about liability in regards to oil wells on the site.
The committee approved its motion by a 3-2 vote.
“It’s beautiful up there,” Jackie Angvove said. “Anything that we can do to maintain it and keep it safe I’m all for it.”