Party planned to raise funds for restoration

Saturday's activities include a dunking booth, face painting and music.
AUSTINTOWN -- A group of township residents is planning a day of activities to raise money to resurrect a park that's fallen into disrepair.
The Community Block Party runs from 10 a.m. to sundown Saturday at Wedgewood Park, off Lancaster Court, organized by the nonprofit Friends of Wedgewood Park Inc.
The park was established about 40 years ago by a developer who was building in the neighborhood. It was privately owned and operated as a swim club until 1997 when trustees paid $61,000 of the struggling Wedgewood Park Community Club's debts for the land.
The township filled in the swimming pool with slag and demolished the dilapidated pool house.
Because township finances are tight, the park hasn't received much attention in recent years. Vandals have moved in, leaving trash and damage in their wake.
Carolyn Senedak, one of the group's members, said the Friends organization hopes to restore the park to its former grandeur.
"This park used to be one of the greatest assets of the township," she said. "Now it's one of its biggest eyesores. We want our children to have something nice down there again."
Saturday's activities include a dunking booth, donated by the Skate Zone of Mahoning Avenue, where participants can test their aim at dunking several township and school district officials.
Some of those participating include Trustees Bo Pritchard and Lisa Oles in the 11 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m. slots, respectively. From the school district, Superintendent Douglas Heuer takes a turn from 1:30 to 2 p.m.; Michael Creatore, school board member, from noon to 12:30 p.m.; and Neal Kopp, Fitch football coach and Woodside Elementary School teacher, from 3:30 to 4 p.m.
Other activities include face painting, guided hikes and free karate lessons from 10 a.m. to noon by Northeast Karate. There will be concessions, a disc jockey, karaoke and performances by Austintown Middle School seventh grade chorus and the Frank Ohl Little Jazz Band. The day concludes with a marshmallow roast at sundown.
A $2 activity fee will be charged per child, but that covers all of the day's children's attractions.
"All of the proceeds benefit the park," Senedak said.
Attendees also can visit an information booth, where they'll learn about the group's hopes and aspirations for the park.
While the township will retain ownership, the Friends group hopes to restore the hiking paths; create a handicapped-accessible, three-stage playground for children of toddler age through age 12; build a skateboard park, ice and roller skating area; revamp the baseball diamond, open and indoor pavilions, restrooms, a track and bleachers.
Senedak acknowledges that many of the goals are expensive and long-range but points to a large sandbox created by removing the slag in the filled-in baby swimming pool and a swing set already erected at the park as the group's early accomplishments.
Several area businesses have donated items for a Chinese auction, and a trash and treasure sale and 50-50 raffle are planned for adult attendees. Leaves, branches and roots for a tree plaque the group will one day install will be available for purchase.
That's another long-term project, Senedak said.
Concerns about the decaying park's effects on property values and a desire to create an area for their children motivated the 30-some families that comprise the nonprofit group to take action.
"We wanted to get the hoodlums out and reclaim the neighborhood for the children," Senedak said.

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