Donation to revive parklet in Stowe

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Fond memories of the 3-on-3 basketball games he played with friends may have prompted Jack DeFillip to donate contest winnings to a beleaguered parklet surrounded on three sides by Belgian block in Stowe.

Norwood Park, located along the busy thoroughfare of McCoy Road and built on the former site of Norwood Elementary, was in disrepair.

Young children were uninterested in the remaining playground equipment and older youth used the site as a hangout. Groups of teens could be seen congregating around the base of the Norwood's military Honor Roll, which has recently been cleaned and repainted through the work of residents.

The donation of $10,000, made by Mr. DeFillip, toward rebuilding the half-court was won in Procter & Gamble's Take it to the House NFL Play 60 promotion.

A check for the award was presented to Mr. DeFillip and commissioners by former Pittsburgh Steeler Merril Hoge in 2011.

The group posed for pictures on a cold January day under the park's small picnic pavilion.

In addition to the money, Mr. DeFillip, who now lives in the Island Heights area of Stowe, received free products from Procter & Gamble.

When he first found out the photo he submitted of family and friends celebrating during a Steelers game had been selected as a winning shot in the contest, he was surprised. There were no stipulations as to where the money went, just as to how it was used -- to tackle childhood obesity by getting kids to be more active.

He decided to keep it local and had a few ideas of his own, but warmed to the idea presented to him by Commissioner Stanley "Stush" Papst Jr. to help the township refurbish more of its parks.

Stowe has been working to refurbish all of its parks in recent years.

Cheryll McDermott, parks and recreation commissioner, said Davis Park located off Island Avenue on Orr Street is next on the agenda for updates and refurbishment.

Work has already been performed at both Island Heights and Presston parks, she said.

"The township got the big money. Mine just gave it a little kick-start," Mr. DeFillip said. Work at the park, including new playground equipment, is being funded through an additional $44,000 grant received through the office of Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills.

One caveat, Mr. DeFillip's donation was given to the township with the stipulation it be used toward a basketball court.

He hopes the inclusion of a new half court will prompt a resurgence of those 3-on-3 summer league games of his youth, which attracted players from as far away as Coraopolis and Aliquippa, while Norwood residents cheered and had cook outs while they watched.

"We always were battling," Mr. DeFillip said, referring to the rivalry between Sto-Rox and Aliquippa on the basketball court.

With the completion of a 10-foot fence around the newly paved half-court and a shorter one around the remainder of the park, the township will plan a grand-opening celebration.

Fence material is being donated by James Lind, owner of McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises, Inc., while Jack Watts of Watts Fencing in Robinson has volunteered to install the fencing.

Concrete used to secure playground equipment and in other areas throughout the park was donated by Curtis Bischof of General Recreation, Inc., who was contracted to provide the equipment.

Last month, residents and business owners gathered forces in a day-long volunteer effort to rebuild the park.

Donations of food and beverages for the workers were also made by area business owners and residents.

Members of the township's street department and volunteer fire department also came out in force to help with the community project.


Sonja Reis, freelance writer:


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