Partnership between community, industry and government transforms Wylie Park

There’s a new park taking shape in the community. Well, it’s actually Wylie Park, but the change taking place is so dramatic, it might almost be a new park. And it’s located right in Chester.

The transformation of the park is being accomplished through a partnership of the City of Chester, local industry GAF and the Chester Citizen’s Alliance, a group of concerned citizens with a goal to improve the quality of life in Chester.

Former Chester City Councilwoman Angela Douglas, who now works with the Chester Citizen’s Alliance and current Chester City Councilman Carlos Williams talked to the N&R at the park site about the work that has taken place there and their vision for the park.

Douglas and Williams pointed out the work that has been done so far: new playground equipment, including a swing for special needs kids, has been installed, a new sidewalk that encircles the playground has been poured, new fall-resistant eco-turf ground cover has been added to the playground area and the parking lot is being paved.

“This was the last part of the major construction. The final steps are pulling everything together and signage,” said Douglas.

The renovation or transformation of the park has been in three phases: the new playground equipment, the drainage and sidewalk and the parking lot. These phases have been funded by GAF. The World Fitness Nature Trail was refurbished by a grant from Duke Energy. Williams and Douglas are also looking for funding to spruce up the “Born Learning Trail” next to Wylie Park that was installed in 2014 through a Chester County United Way project.

The new sidewalks allow people with mobility and stability issues to access the playground, and for those kids with mobility or special needs issues, there is a zero gravity swing with a harness. There are also bucket swings for the smaller kids, said Douglas.

There are also sensory stations around the playground equipment. The height of the playground equipment allows for wheelchair access, too.

Cost of this phase (called Phase I) of the park construction has been about $150,000, Douglas and Williams said.

The group hopes the construction should be complete by the end of the month. They plan a ribbon cutting for the new improved park and an as-yet-to-be-planned Fun Day.

Douglas and Williams believe the renovation of the park is part and parcel of the renaissance taking place elsewhere in Chester, with new shops coming in downtown and a new housing complex on the horizon just this side of the city limits. The park may even spark more visitors to the City.

The park is the first ADA compliant park in Chester County, and Williams and Douglas hope that citizens across the county will come and utilize it as well.

The renewal of the park had many hands, as they say, making light work, going all the way back to former State Sen. Creighton Coleman and current State Sen. Mike Fanning, who helped secure the Senate appropriation money, GAF, Duke Energy, the City of Chester (Rec Director Chris White and Public Works Director Reggie McBeth) and the Chester Citizens Alliance members (including Angela Douglas and Brenda McBrayer.)

By Brian Garner, Staff Reporter with The News & Reporter