Township adds attractions in Ontelaunee Park
The people in the park were walking alone or in couples, some with dogs or with babies in strollers.
They wanted to take advantage of the early morning coolness.
Homer Snyder built and then operated Ontelaunee Park in Lynn Township, for 37 years until 1966.
After serving as a music venue, the park was abandoned and became home to weeds and a swamp.
The township bought the land and the first project was to clear the area and create a master plan to resuscitate the park.
The Zeisloff House, one of the earliest in the township, was moved to the park in 2001 by the Lynn Heidelberg Historical Society. Some logs on the house had rotted and had to be replaced.
Tony Oswald was the first chairman of the township recreation advisory commission. Ben and Sue Giralico next served on the commission.
A walking bridge across Ontelaunee Creek was restored and named the Oswald Bridge. The bridge leads to a nearly flat walking trail where the Reading Railroad once ran.
Another trail begins at the road to the Lehigh County Authority sewer plant, this one with more changes in elevation and diverse vegetation.
Recently, there was talk about a bridge between the main part of the park and the area where the dog park is located, but the project was deemed too expensive.
Supervisor Chairman Justin Smith said he was against the dog park until it came high on the list of items on a survey that residents wanted.
A new pavilion was built across the street from the old one. Later a kitchen was added. The large, old pavilion was in sad shape and there was talk of tearing it down.
Some residents objected, but the pavilion was recently torn down and replaced with a new one with a cement floor to replace the cinders.
The floor reaches out to create a patio in front. Rough plumbing is in so restrooms and a kitchen can be added later.
A nine-basket disk ball course, which begins near the entrance to the park, has been added.
The course is very popular, said Smith. Playing it twice gives 18 holes.
The Allentown West Rotary Club built the bandstand as part of its 100th anniversary celebration.
At the entrance off Route 143 is an Eternal Flame. It was the only entrance for a long while, but a back entrance has been opened so when people are holding a sports event they do not have to drive through an area where community members may be holding an event.
The historical society has recreated, as nearly as possible, Fort Everett, which was originally on Fort Everett Road behind the municipal building.
A bank barn was moved from along Route 309 and is filled with old machinery. The Tripoli train station was researched.
Some information came from people who still remember when the train was in use. A copy has been built in the park.
And who wants a train station without a train. Homer Snyder had a train running in the park. When it was sold at auction, Carl Snyder bought it and restoration was begun. Craig Weaver has been active with this. It is expected to be running once again in the park.
Nestle Waters restored a spring house and makes annual donations to the park.
New Tripoli Bank has also made sizable donations. Others giving major contributions are Lehigh County, DCNR, Century Fund, Dale and Ruth Roth, DCED and the Trexler Fund.
An addition has been added to the children’s playground with a small pavilion for parents to sit and watch their children or have a picnic in the park.
A basketball court and volleyball court have been built. Smith said the basketball court gets a lot of use.
A lower soccer field was added, but there is not enough room for the baseball field many would like. The upper soccer field was one of the first improvements.
Presently, they are working on restoring the pond by removing lily pads. When it is cleared there is interest in stocking fish with possibly no license needed. Two grants have been submitted for a splash pad.
Smith said they would like to have a small one for toddlers and a larger one for older youth. However, if funds do not allow the two, toddlers will be able to use the larger one with parents keeping a watchful eye on them.
A veterans’ memorial will be placed to the left of the Eternal Flame. Names are being raised from all four townships for veterans’ names even dating back to the Revolutionary War.
A website and email have been provided, said Steve Bachman, the Heidelberg supervisor who is collecting names. They are: nwlehighvetsmemorial.org and nwlehighvets firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supervisor Steve Feinour proposed the veterans project and supervisors thought it was a great idea.
Many community events are scheduled such as the car cruises, concerts, a pow wow, a community yard sale, the Northwestern Lehigh Education Foundation’s 5/10 K run, a Pioneer Apple Day festival, and events specific to a family and/or friends.
Boy Scouts help with the cruises. Both the Boy and Girl Scouts help with various projects.