Scranton Park Renovations Planned, Neighbors Voice Concerns

SCRANTON -- The mayor of Scranton has plans to fix up a long-neglected park in the city, but its neighbors say a lot needs to be done to clean up the park first.

Crowley Park sits at the end of North Washington Avenue in Green Ridge. The mayor has plans to renovate the park next spring, but neighbors say this park has been a dumping ground for years.

There are a lot of memories of Crowley Park in Scranton, but neighbors say, recently, that's all that's been here -- only memories.

"I have a 19 year old. He turned 19 yesterday, and I used to take him here as a toddler. For years, he met some of his best friends here in this park," Rebecca McMullen recalled.

Plans to renovate Crowley Park could mean a new era. Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright revealed renderings of what a $300,000 renovation would look like.

"I have a 10 year old who can't wait to play on these basketball courts," McMullen said.

New basketball courts, playground improvements, and a wellness trail could be ready by next summer.

But members of the Green Ridge Neighborhood Association confronted Mayor Courtright at his news conference saying Crowley Park has been a spot for the city to dump construction materials.

"We have spoken to members of the sewer authority who stated that they had permission to dump their materials here," said Mark Seitzinger, Green Ridge Neighborhood Association.

The neighborhood association is calling for an environmental study before any renovations take place.

"If it was safe, great. If everything is fine, great. But the right move and the smart move to do is to do an environmental study to make sure it's safe," Seitzinger said.

The claims could complicate renovation plans, though the neighbors say they notified the city about the dumping last year.

Mayor Courtright says he was never told.

"If there's any kind of contaminants here at all, we will obviously rid ourselves of that before we do anything, but it's been a park forever, and kids have been playing here forever. If he knew that they were here, I would have hoped he would have told somebody earlier on. You can see there's a child playing over there right now. To wait until today to tell us, I wish he hadn't done that," Mayor Courtright said.

Money to pay for the park renovations is set aside in the mayor's 2018 budget proposal that will need approval from city council later this year.

If an environmental study is done, it could affect the project's bottom line.