The dedication of four new benches, new lighting, a bicycle rack and a new trash receptacle for Bicentennial Park occurred on Sept. 22 during the Inaugural Day of volunteerism to celebrate the new president of SUNY Fredonia, Dr. Ginny Horvath.
Twenty volunteers from SUNY Fredonia, a group from the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua, neighborhood volunteers from Academy Heights, new principal of Dunkirk High School Steve O'Brien, a Boy scout and his family, Council representatives Stephanie Kiyak and Bill Rivera, and Dunkirk Mayor AJ Dolce all turned out on a wet and cold Saturday to replace invasive Japanese Knot-weed with more habitat friendly vegetation and clear litter from Crooked Brook and the park.
Hot chocolate was donated by Tim Horton's. Dr Jonathan and Pricilla Titus provided replacement seeds for the cleared embankment, plants such as Ironweed, Mulberry, honey suckle and rye grass.
The new benches, bike rack and lighting represent the final part of a Community Pride grant from Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. Dunkirk High School Grounds Supervisor Tim Abbey arranged for the cement pads and the new refuse container. Valentine Co. volunteered to anchor the new benches to the pads.
It is the hope that with these greater amenities the park will become more neighborhood friendly and a destination for walkers and bikers to enjoy the beauty of this small brookside parcel.
Collaboration between Academy Heights and the high school may bring about greater involvement of community youth in artistic programming, display of talents, appreciation of and maintenance of the ecosystem and possibly even future restoration of the walking bridge over Crooked Brook, once a graduation tradition in Dunkirk.