ALLENTOWN — The Allentown Borough Council has voted unanimously to hire E&LP Associates as the landscape architect for the planned Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park.
E&LP Associates was selected from a group of eight companies that responded to a request for proposals that was issued by Allentown, according to a resolution council members passed on Nov. 13.
The Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park subcommittee recommended, and the council approved, the appointment of E&LP Associates as the landscape architect for the project and said the firm can complete the project in phases including kickoff and document review, visioning, concept design, cost estimating, and grant writing and submission in an amount not to exceed $16,900.
Mayor Greg Westfall said the goal of hiring a landscape architect is to have a design concept plan created and then to apply for Monmouth County open space funding and other grants that could be used to develop Ashby Park.
Councilman John A. Elder III said E&LP Associates is “a high-energy firm with a connection to Allentown” and he supported hiring the firm to design Ashby Park.
Elder was joined in his support of the firm by council President Thomas Fritts, Councilwoman Johnna Stinemire, Councilman Rob Schmitt and Councilman Robert Strovinsky.
Officials said that prior to the development of the park, public meetings will be held so residents may provide input on the plan.
In 2016, municipal officials purchased the 2.7-acre Wilbert property, which is behind the Allentown United Methodist Church on Church Street. The parcel is bounded by residential properties on Hamilton, Broad and North Main streets.
In 2017, council members named the Wilbert property the Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park. According to the website findagrave.com, Ashby died at his home in Allentown on April 26, 1946, at age 102.
At the time of his death, Ashby was the last remaining New Jersey Civil War veteran. Ashby is buried in the African Methodist Episcopal cemetery on Hamilton Street adjacent to the park that now bears his name.
Municipal officials have said there are other African-American soldiers who served in the Civil War from Allentown who are also buried in the AME cemetery.