Harrisburg leaders to unveil concept for Reservoir Park improvements Wednesday

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – City leaders are once again looking for your input on how to improve Reservoir Park.

Planners and consultants have held two previous public meetings, and now they’re ready to reveal the tentative plan they’ve come up with.

“There’s nothing up there for the kids too much no more,” Ali Mayo said of the iconic Harrisburg landmark. He grew up with Reservoir Park in its glory days.

“I lived on almost every street on this block,” he said.

Now Mayo’s 3 Kingz Barber Shop sits in the same neighborhood, just outside the park’s Walnut Street entrance. He takes his 2-year-old son there to play, but he said there aren’t a lot of options for older kids.

“Above 5 and they’re not into basketball, ain’t too much for them to do,” he said, “except get into trouble.”

“I think now we’re in a position to kind of explore those options and make sure that this park gets back to its thriving days,” city councilman Cornelius Johnson said.

City workers have been passing out door hanger flyers –about 1,200 of them — to remind people about the next public meeting on Wednesday at 6 p.m. It’ll take place at Transcend Church, at 1801 State Street.

Consultants there will present a concept for the park that they developed from a list of ideas from prior public meetings.

“Splash parks, skate parks, bike roads, or even a small dog park,” Johnson said, recalling some of the ideas being kicked around. City parks officials did not want to reveal details about the actual concept before Wednesday’s meeting.

Whatever the eventual plan, it will likely cost in the millions of dollars “to do it right,” Kevin Sanders, the city’s director of arts, culture and tourism, said.

Funding will hopefully include grants and matching funds, he said, but the project is more than likely at least a year and a half from breaking ground on any significant construction.

Wednesday’s meeting isn’t even the last of the public input sessions; consultants will hold a fourth in July to go over the changes they make after this upcoming meeting, and then come up with a final draft plan following the final session.

There’s already some work happening at the park, but it’s not part of the overall Reservoir Park master plan, Sanders said.

The city contracted with construction company Kemar, Inc. to remove old, peeling paint from the bandshell near the State Street entrance, repaint it, replace decaying wood, and resurface the floor.

“This has been a long time coming,” the company’s president, Kevin Marroquin, said as his workers finished up for the day Monday. They plan to finish the job in the next few weeks to allow for theater performances during the summer.

It’s one of many upgrades the park could be looking at in the coming years.

“Until you get the riffraff out,” Mayo said, “it doesn’t matter what you do with that park.”

The most important upgrade he wants to see is security to keep people from doing what they shouldn’t be. “All they do nowadays is go up there to pick fights and shoot out,” he said.

A couple months ago, not long after Mayo locked up for the day, a bullet from a shooting nearby pierced the wall of his barber shop, ricocheted off of a light, and embedded itself in a collage of different hairstyles Mayo hung near his barber chair.

He doesn’t want his shop caught in the crossfire again; he wants to see the Reservoir Park he knew, not, as he calls it, the battleground it’s turned into.

“Just do something for the kids,” he said, “so they have something to do in these summer months.”

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