EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — In a room of about 75 people, a plan was presented on Monday to East Palestine Village Council and the public — a project for which Norfolk Southern has offered to pay.
The plan is to remodel the village park and give parts of it an update after Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw has promised to make things right in East Palestine following February’s train derailment.
On Monday, a special village council was held to present their latest offer. They are hiring a architectural firm out of Pittsburgh to remodel the village park.
“Once we get a little further along, we’ll have a better estimate — but as of right now, we expect the project to cost upward of $25 million,” said Kristin Wong, director of corporate giving at Norfolk Southern.
One of the biggest changes presented is the pool. The idea is to move the it to where the basketball and tennis courts are, with additions added into the pool area.
“What we heard from the community is that you guys would like to have something that is more competition-style size but at the same time, it has an aquatic — meaning the kids playing area with water and the low-entry pool,” said Peter Quintanilla, design hub director with Michael Baker International.
The basketball and tennis courts would be moved a little further south, joining soccer fields in the bigger open lot, in the middle of the park.
“Looking at the whole entire field and making it flat. So, literally going out there and making a little bit of earth work to make it flat,” Quintanilla said.
Three playgrounds will be added, and they’ll be be suited for children of different age groups, making it ADA accessible.
One resident who was for the new parks just asked they keep some historical aspect of the current one.
“Please, please, please — keep that part of our history alive and well,” said Lisa Mahoney, of East Palestine.
Another big change would be adding in an amphitheater at one end of the park.
“If you have movie night, you’re able to bring a projector,” Quintanilla said. “You inflate the screen, and then you’re able to have movie nights. Or, if you have a band, they’re able to plug in the outlets there and start playing music.”
More parking spots would be added, and traffic patterns would be reworked.
Baseball fields would be updated, along with other buildings and restroom facilities.
“We’ll never have a chance to do something like this again that’s paid for. This is wonderful. It will help the community,” said Connie Robinson, of East Palestine.
Council voted to approve moving forward with the project. Now, work will begin to develop full, detailed designs for each component.
A detailed list of the underwritten plans, according to Norfolk Southern, are as follows:
• Replacement of the community pool with a new aquatic center and pool house to create a visually appealing focal point for the park entrance.
• Three new modern playgrounds that offer diversified play experiences to improve usability, reduce the risk of injury and meet ADA standards.
• Improvements to the baseball fields including seating, dugouts, and fencing.
• New basketball courts and tennis courts.
• A new amphitheater with an electrified stage and seating that incorporates and celebrates the existing natural landscape of the park.
• Restructured brick pavilion and surrounding areas to improve functionality and accessibility to the rest of the park while meeting ADA standards.
• New parking lots and improved traffic flow to optimize park capacity and improve visitor experience.
• Upgrades to park infrastructure, including facility renovations, improved walkways, and accessible pathways, designed to enrich the park visitation and comply with ADA guidelines