The Village of Lindenhurst has started revamping one of its parks after more than a three-year wait for state grant money.
Residents have complained that Lt. Edward Weckerle Memorial Park has been in a state of deterioration for more than a decade. Kristin Fusaro, who lives near the park, started a petition drive in 2015, asking the village to make improvements, including providing better accessibility for the elderly and disabled.
Later that year, village officials promised a park rehabilitation project, saying they would use $100,000, part of a grant obtained by then-State Sen. Michael Venditto. But the grant languished, caught in bureaucratic red tape, even as Fusaro and village officials pushed for the funding to be released, officials said.
Now the money has been approved and workers last week started removing old playground equipment from the park — a triangular bit of land at the intersections of West John Street, North Ninth Street and New York Avenue.
Deputy Mayor Maryann Weckerle said the renovated park will have a handicap-accessible swing and a transfer ramp to make it easier for those in wheelchairs to get onto the larger pieces of equipment. Additionally, the sand base will be replaced with a wheelchair-accessible rubber safety surface.
The park was dedicated in 1958 for the grandfather of Weckerle's husband, Thomas. Edward Weckerle was a World War I veteran who also served as captain in the local fire department and as a lieutenant in the village's now defunct police force.
The village has paid Landscape Structures of Delano, Minnesota, $27,869 for equipment and paid Playsites Plus Surfaces of Central Islip $19,750 for the installation of the equipment as well as $60,082 for installation of the rubber safety surface. In addition to the grant, the village is using $6,100 raised through craft fairs held by Fusaro to cover the costs, officials said.
“I’m thrilled that the park renovation is finally underway,” Fusaro said. “Everyone involved in the project has worked hard to get to this point and the neighborhood is excited to see it renovated.”
Fusaro is seeking private donations and working with State Sen. John E. Brooks (D-Seaford) for more state funding for items on a wish list for the park, including new fencing, lighting, benches and a plaque to honor its namesake.