The foundation will raise money and find grants to pay for improvements at Cascade Park.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Mayor Timothy Fulkerson has fond memories of fishing in the lake at Cascade Park and heading there for dances in his youth.
He's hoping an initiative will keep the park viable for a new generation to make some memories of their own.
The Cascade Park Foundation, a nonprofit group, is being formed by the mayor and some of the groups that frequent the 104-year-old site. Attorneys are now working on a charter and bylaws for the foundation.
Fulkerson said the foundation will do its own fund raising and go after public and private grants.
"I came up with the idea because of a lack of funding in the city. The city is always applying for grants, but we aren't always able to come up with the matching funds," he said.
In recent years, money problems have forced the city to close the park pool and make other cutbacks.
Any money raised by the foundation could be used as a fund matching source for grants to benefit the park, he said. The city will still take on the some of the repairs and building costs, he said.
Involved club: Dale Witherspoon, president of the Castle Paws and Taws, a square dance club that meets in the park pavilion each Wednesday, said the mayor's idea should ensure the longevity of the park.
"If we can get the foundation formed and up and running, it will take a lot of the politics out if it. The whole park should be there for the community from now on," he said.
The Castle Paws and Taws have been working to improve the park for many years.
The group raised enough money to save the park pavilion about 30 years ago when city fathers wanted to demolish it because of a collapsing roof.
Janet Verone, a member of the Cascade Park Development Committee, a group dedicated to park improvements, said the foundation could also be instrumental in helping her group accomplish its major goals.
What's been done: The development committee formed about 15 years ago to help restore the park, which had fallen into disrepair over the last three decades, she said.
Each year they make some improvement and oversee most of the park landscaping. This year they planted a new flower bed in front of the park pavilion.
One day they hope to construct a handicapped-accessible ramp from the picnic area to the creek where there were scenic waterfalls, she said. However, the estimated $25,000 cost is prohibitive right now for the group.
Verone said the foundation could assist the group to find grant funding.
Fulkerson said the city has worked hard to bring the park back from its years of neglect when the amusement rides closed and a dam in the lake broke in the mid-1970s, leaving only a small stream in its place today.
Park projects such as Cascade of Lights, a yearly Christmas light display, and summer youth dances starting June 14 are ways to raise money and keep people involved, the mayor said.
"We just want to keep Cascade Park. We want to try to get the youth involved so they can remember it when they get older," he said.