LEWIS CENTER — The North Orange Park playground in Orange Township has been closed since Oct. 5 for improvements.
“Improvements will include new ADA-accessible equipment as well as new soft surface for the entire playground,” states the Orange Township website.
Despite the recent rains, crews were working at the site Wednesday morning. The playground was fenced off. Few were at the park on 7560 Gooding Boulevard (a Delaware mailing address) off of U.S. Route 23, but those who were may have seen signs reminding them of the public health crisis — “Due to the coronavirus, no groups larger than 10 allowed at any one time” and to maintain social distancing.
North Orange Park, open dawn to dusk, may be best known for its community Aquatic Center complex, but the playground is next to the water slides and 8,500-square-foot outdoor swimming pool. The 36-acre park also has an amphitheater, basketball courts, charcoal grills, fishing ponds, nature trail, paved walking trails, picnic area, sledding hill and soccer fields.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pool wasn’t able to open.
“After careful consideration, and taking into consideration continued state protocols and the Delaware County Health District’s recommendation, Orange Township Aquatic Center will be closed for the 2020 season,” it was said on the township website. “We understand this announcement will be disappointing to many families, as it is for us as well. We look forward to reopening safely in 2021. Funds saved this season will be directed toward necessary capital improvements for our Aquatic Center.”
As for the improvements, the township posted on Facebook that “the handrails and water slides have been refinished, the lap pool was replastered, and the concrete deck was repaired.”
There had been reports of dead fish in the ponds at North Orange and the Township Hall parks due to bacteria, and an environmental firm was assigned to assess the problem.
In other parks news, the Orange Township Board of Trustees entered into an agreement last month with Eagle Bridge Co. to start the second phase of the Lewis Center Trail project.
“Even though this project has yet to begin, Orange is already planning Phase 3 of this trail project,” the township said.
Orange Township issued a Parks, Trails and Greenways Master Plan in 2008. At that time, the project was to “develop an off-road multi-use trail parallel to the railroad tracks from Glen Oak Elementary School north to Lewis Center Road.”
In addition, resealing was done for the trails from Orange Township Hall to Oak Creek, and from Orange Road to Bale Kenyon Road. Soccer fields were reseeded, bridge decks and hand rails repaired, and benches ordered for North Road Park.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.