Pocket full of pride

June 27th, 2015 1:35 am

First Posted: 4/3/2013

It was like a big smile with a missing front tooth.

That’s how former Pittston City mayor Michael Lombardo described the vacant lot on South Main Street before construction began on a new mini park.

Downtown Pittston’s new pocket park is taking shape and should be finished by early May, leaving downtown workers and visitors with a new reason to smile.

The park, nestled between Napoli Pizza and the Dental Building, will feature tables and bench seating for 20 people, a waterfall fixture with an art sculpture behind it, a small stage, 13 pear trees and a 25-foot by 8-foot community herb and flower garden, said Main Street Manager Rose Randazzo.

The property, now owned by the city’s redevelopment authority, consists of the 40-foot by 40-foot park and a small area behind it that will be used for private parking spaces to be rented to a neighboring business.

The $60,000 project was paid for through federal funding from the Streetscaping Project, state casino funding and donations. The furniture was paid for by a $5,000 donation from Landmark Bank and the trees were paid for by a $1,000 donation from state Rep. Mike Carroll.

The furniture was installed on April 2 and the fountain is set up and ready for artwork to be installed behind it. Planting of herbs and flowers will begin after the weather breaks. The trees have been planted and, after several years, will start to provide a canopy over the park, Randazzo said.

The park has seating for 20 people, which includes two tables with four seats, two tables with three seats and one extra space on each for wheelchairs, one bench that seats three and three stools.

Hadley Construction was awarded the bid to build the park last year.

After the 2010 demolition of the former Pittston Billiard, structural damage was noticed at the adjoining building at 30 S. Main St., commonly known as the Wayne’s World building. The store closed a short time later.

The city bought the building and, at the time, believed the building could be restored. A more thorough assessment after the purchase revealed it would be far more cost-effective to demolish the building.

The question, Lombardo said, was how does the city repurpose a lot in the middle of the block?

That’s when the pocket park idea surfaced.

Lombardo envisions the park becoming a lunch spot for customers from local restaurants or even brown baggers. It could also be a place to just relax.

“It reflects a thoughtful progression on Main Street,” Lombardo said. “It really adds to the downtown atmosphere.”

Smaller music and art programs will be scheduled for the park, Randazzo said.

The fragrant herb garden, Randazzo hopes, will be utilized by everyone, including local restaurants, and will add a pleasant smell to the park. She imagines herbs such as mint, basil and oregano.

Maria Livrone of Art on Main, fomerly Arts Seen Gallery, is designing the stainless steel and glass sculpture called “Tree of Life.” Randazzo hopes the park will be ready for the first Second Friday event in Downtown Pittston on May 10.

“It’s a great thing for the downtown,” Randazzo said. “It will provide a place for people to meet and relax.”