A popular city gathering spot is getting a makeover.
The Centre Park Historic District, in partnership with the city's public works department, is working to transform the park in the 700 block of Centre Avenue from a muddy space cluttered with trees into a grassy haven residents can enjoy throughout the year.
The organization got a big boost this week when a local businessman contributed a truckload of bright green sod to improve the terrain.
Michael Feeney, owner of John Feeney Funeral Home, said he heard about the effort to revamp the park and decided he would step up by purchasing $2,000 worth of sod for the cause.
"I saw what they were trying to do and wanted to help," he said. "I know they have been trying to grow grass there for years and it wasn't working. So I thought this would really help improve the park a lot faster."
Michael Lauter, executive director of the historic district, said the donation was greatly appreciated.
"The park is important because it's right in the middle of the district and we use it for many of our community activities," Lauter said. "We have been working for years to improve all our common spaces and this was at the top of the list."
City arborist Lester Kissinger Jr. has been working with a crew of public works employees to spruce up the park. They recently removed 11 trees to provide more open space and allow more sunlight to reach the ground.
"The tree canopy was blocking the sun and causing the grass to die," he said.
Kissinger and Lauter said that now the grass is in place, they can turn their focus to other beautification projects. Planting flower beds and installing planters are next on the agenda.
Feeney, who promised Kissinger and Lauter that he would donate more sod in the future to fill out the park, said he's optimistic his generosity will inspire other business owners and residents to contribute to the effort.
"I just hope that people see how great this looks and decide to give," he said. "It could be big donation or it could be 20 bucks - it really doesn't matter as long as people help."