By Steve Mocarsky, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
WILKES-BARRE — Public Square is getting a $200,000 facelift, and the six-week operation began Monday.
A state grant is paying for workers to resoil and plant new grass in all of the green areas of the center-city park, as well as trim trees and plant new ones to replace any that must be removed, city Grant Coordinator Mark Barry said.
Workers also will remove benches along the square perimeter and widen the sidewalks with a temporary gravel treatment to allow people to circulate better at events such as the Farmers Market and the Fine Arts Fiesta without having to walk around benches or into the lawn, Barry said.
“For a lot of events, there seems to be a lot of congestion. People can’t get around very well,” Barry said. “This should improve circulation and the flow of people as they walk through the events.”
If officials find the wider sidewalks reduce congestion as intended, then a permanent solution, such as total replacement and expansion of the red asphalt pavers for the walkway, may be considered for future phases of this project as funding allows, Barry said.
Also as part of the project, benches inside the park will get new slats, and the sculptured metal backdrop behind the stage and bandstand will get a fresh coat of primer and paint.
Belles Property Management LLC, of Shickshinny, is performing the work as low bidder for the project.
Work on the east side of the square will last about three weeks, and then move to the west side for another three weeks. During construction, the entire east side of Public Square will be fenced off and no pedestrian traffic will be allowed; the same will be true for the west side of the square when work begins there.
Barry said half of the square will be able to accommodate all of the vendors for the remaining four Farmers Market events because the number of vendors typically decreases as the end of the season approaches. “That’s why we waited until now to start the project,” he said.
It was necessary, however, to move the city’s Trick or Treat event scheduled for Oct. 31 to South Main Street between Public Square and Northampton Street.
The block will be closed to traffic so attendees can safely trick or treat from downtown merchants. The city will release details on the road closure soon.