ALLENTOWN — The members of the Allentown Borough Council have awarded a contract in the amount of $223,226 to Down to Earth Landscaping Inc. for Phase II improvements to 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 March 22, Borough Council President John A. Elder III, Councilman Dan Payson, Councilwoman Martha Johnson, Councilwoman Nikki Darling and Councilwoman Erica DeKranes voted “yes” on a motion to award the contract to the company. Councilman Michael Drennan was absent from the meeting.
According to Borough Administrator Laurie Roth, construction activities are expected to begin during the week of April 4 and last about 12 weeks. After the 12-week period is completed, regular maintenance activities, including watering and site mowing, will continue through October 2022.
Roth said construction hours will be observed from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. She said “every effort will be made to complete the work as scheduled, however, unsafe weather conditions, material supply delays due to COVID-19, or an unforeseen emergency may force rescheduling or extension of the planned construction period.”
Ed Confair, the senior program manager at E&LP Associates, which is working with Allentown on the development of Ashby Park, previously said Phase II of the project 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.
Roth said that during Phase I work at Ashby Park, 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, Roth announced that the Allentown Presbyterian Church’s Main Street Mission is looking for area homes in need of general home improvement or construction work for upcoming charity work that is expected to occur between July 28-30.
Anyone who is interested in participating in the program may contact J.C. Fowler at firstname.lastname@example.org
The borough is not affiliated with the church’s charity program.