Grand opening for Jim King Memorial Park in Athens Twp.
ATHENS TOWNSHIP - A ribbon was cut Saturday to mark the grand opening of Jim King Memorial Park on Glen Valley Road in East Athens.
Ground was broken in 2004 for the creation of the park, which has been an ongoing project since then.
"Every year we did something" to add to and improve the park's facilities, said Richard Bean, chairman of the Athens Township Parks & Recreation Commission.
Today, all of the park's facilities have been installed, including a pavilion with picnic tables, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, a ball field, a walking path, a basketball court, a volleyball court, and eco-friendly toilet facilities, Bean said.
All that remains to be done is install four additional benches, he said.
The park is named after Jim King, who was chairman of the Athens Township supervisors when he died of brain cancer in 2005. When King was diagnosed with cancer, he was also serving as chief of the Athens Township Volunteer Fire Company.
"I'm so appreciative of the people in the community who pitched in" to create the park, King's sister, Linda Rogers, said at the ceremony.
The park is now a wonderful place for kids and families to come and enjoy themselves, she said.
And people from all over the Valley, not just East Athens, are using the park, Rogers said.
The park is owned by Athens Township, Bean said.
But various individuals and groups in the community played a big role in building its facilities, Bean said.
For example, the Valley Softball League installed the ball field's infield, he said.
The Athens Township Police Benevolent Association donated the park's playground equipment.
Local Eagle Scout Keith Carpenter installed the swing set, and a student from the Valley, Philip Smith, installed the flagpole and nearby landscaping for his senior project.
And the Athens Lions Club built the park's sign.
The Parks and Recreation Commission hopes to obtain funding to resurface the basketball court, since the surface now consists of small pebbles, Bean said.
The Parks and Recreation Commission used no local tax dollars to create the park, Bean said.
The construction of the park was paid for using other revenue that came to the township, including Round Top antenna rental fees and pavilion rental fees, and donations, he said.
When King was in kindergarten, he had attended a one-room schoolhouse that had existed at one end of the park area, Rogers said. The next year, the schoolhouse was torn down.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.