Wengert Memorial Park packs big vision in small site, new anchor for rail trail

4 min read1,864 views and 404 shares Posted February 27, 2019

A new park championed by the Lebanon Valley Conservancy is set to transform an unused area of land at the western edge of Lebanon city – it’s a project that could become a hallmark feature of Lebanon’s urban landscape.

The John E. Wengert Memorial Park has been in the works for a few years now. In 2017, John Latimer visited the site and covered a planning meeting about the park for the Daily News.

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A master plan and costs estimates have now been completed by York-based YSM Landscape Architects. We caught up with Lebanon Valley Conservancy executive director Laurie Crawford to learn more about the project.

Read the full park master plan here (PDF).

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Engineering and design work are expected to begin this year, with construction of Phase 1 in 2020. Funding is being sought from PA DCNR, PennDOT, and LVRT and preliminary estimates put the project cost at about $2 million. The first phase will cost about $500,000.

Phase 1 will include trailhead improvements, the parking area and park entry plaza, information kiosk, picnic pavilion, and a first trail including fitness stations. Phase 2 is planned to include further walks and trails, as well as lawn and native grass meadows, seating plaza’s, overlooks, and interpretive signs.

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Future phases could see an age segregated playground, amphitheater, art and sculpture, and improvements to the creek corridor. The park is also being conceived in a way to align with the east-west axis and relate to the solar equinox.

Here’s what the site looks like from above, thanks to Google Maps imagery.

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The park is named for John E. Wengert, the late dairy farmer and founding chair of the Lebanon Valley Conservancy. (John’s father, Samuel. K. Wengert, founded Wengert’s Dairy.)

Located on Chestnut Street across from Lebanon Catholic, the site ties together the area of an old railroad right of way that is today owned in combination by the County (on behalf of LVRT) and the City of Lebanon.

The vision of the Wengert Memorial Park is to revitalize the vacant property and create a community recreation resource, as well as providing a trailhead for the LVRT. According to the project’s master plan, the site will also serve as an educational tool about the importance and preservation of the Quittapahilla watershed.

If you wish to donate to the park, funds can be directed to the Lebanon Valley Conservancy, designated for park. The Lebanon Valley Conservancy is also looking for volunteers to help with the 2019 Tower to Town race, a 10 miler scheduled for October 6.

Additionally, the Lebanon Valley Conservancy is seeking applicants for its Richard H. and Karen R. Light Memorial Scholarship.

Here are some additional photos from my own visit to the future park site last week, as well as a few detail images from the master plan.

Looking east towards the former home of Marabelle’s (which is currently available).
Looking west at the Hazel Creek Dyke.
A wide angle shot looking south towards Lebanon Catholic.
The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail currently ends at Cumberland Street.
Looking west down the Quittie.
The age-specific playgrounds would come in a later phase, as would the potential changes to the canal wall.
Twelve spaces in the parking lot off Chestnut Street. That part of Chestnut Street does not have street parking currently although it may be able to accommodate it if needed.
A viewing area on the Quittie could put you right up close to the ducks that currently have dominion over the canal.

Comments

  1. This is wonderful. A couple of years ago I read an article which featured a city’s revitalization of their Canal by adding Chinese lanterns and boat rides, with shops and restaurants in same area. Not sure how much they focused on the sort of park and recreation choices for the Wengert Park
    I’m simply delighted by all these plans. I believe the city I read about was in Connecticut, and I mention it because I’ve often wondered if Lebanon could do something equally magical that included the canal. Looking forward to the progress and hope there are posts about it to keep us all informed! Thanks.

  2. Seems pretty nice. But what happens when it rains a lot? Will it flood easily? Seems like a waste of tax money to me. To do something like this is fine, but what if every county wanted something like this? You can’t do this everywhere because of the $$$ involved. How long until someone vandelizes this?

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