Allentown council will seek bids for Phase II work on Ashby Park

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ALLENTOWN – The members of the Allentown Borough Council have authorized a consulting firm to solicit bids for Phase II work related to the development of Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park.

The property where Ashby Park is being developed is bounded by Hamilton, Broad and North Main streets, and is situated behind the Allentown United Methodist Church property.

During a meeting on Feb. 8, Borough Council President John A. Elder III, Councilman Michael Drennan, Councilman Dan Payson, Councilwoman Martha Johnson, Councilwoman Nikki Darling and Councilwoman Erica DeKranes (formerly Torsiello) voted “yes” on a motion to authorize E&LP Associates, which is helping to develop Ashby Park, to go out to bid for Phase II of the project.

Ed Confair, the senior program manager at E&LP Associates, previously said Phase II of Ashby Park will focus on establishing a native wildflower meadow in the northern portion of the site.

Confair said a brick paver seating area in the meadow will serve as the home for the future Sgt. George Ashby monument in the park. A seating area under a grove of trees, park benches and two rain gardens will also be added to the park.

Within the past year, Deer Carcass Removal Service, Cream Ridge, completed Phase I work at Ashby Park.

The work in Phase I included the installation of a permeable asphalt path, the installation of a crushed stone path, the removal of a timber wall, the installation of brick and granite pavers, the installation of curbs and sidewalks at the Hamilton Street and Broad Street park entrances, and the installation of trees near the pathways, according to municipal officials.

Borough Administrator Laurie Roth said that during Phase I, Department of Public Works employees removed a tree that was damaged by beetles, installed temporary signs, installed fencing at the Broad Street entrance and planted trees along the property line on Broad Street.

According to the website findagrave.com, George 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 (AME) cemetery on Hamilton Street, which is adjacent to the land that is being developed as Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park.

Municipal officials have said that in addition to Ashby, there are other African American soldiers from Allentown who served in the Civil War who are buried in the AME cemetery.

In other business during the Feb. 8 meeting, the council members: accepted the resignation of Kelly Owens from the Senior Committee; accepted the resignation of Joe Sensi from the Board of Recreation Commissioners; authorized Mayor Thomas Fritts to sign an employment contract with Allentown Police Chief Daniel Panckeri; removed 23 Hamilton St. from the abandoned property list to facilitate the transfer and rehabilitation of the property; and authorized E&LP Associates, at a cost of $33,700, to perform work on design and contract administration for the Ashby Park project (Phase II).