A new community park is taking shape in Carbondale thanks to the efforts of the Greater Carbondale YMCA. Dubbed the Racket Brook Recreation Area, the park is located along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail near John Street.

The YMCA hosted a Community Park Build on Saturday, June 29, as part of the fulfillment requirements for a grant received from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Other funds for Phase I of the park construction came from private donors, donations from local organizations, and from KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that helps communities across the United States build playgrounds.

As part of Phase I, which is expected to be completed by the fall, a team of volunteers, YMCA employees, and professionals worked to install playground equipment at the park site. The YMCA was able to work with the playground manufacturing company to personalize the design of the climbers.

Colors, specific play modules, and the layout of the equipment were all chosen to create a playground that will be fun for children of different ages and abilities. The YMCA was even able to incorporate the Y’s four core values into the climber by having the words caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility imprinted on the structure.

Other components of Phase I will include a poured-in-place rubber safety mat installed beneath the playground, a walking loop around the park, a meditation garden near the small waterfall on Racket Brook, landscaping, and a pedestrian bridge across the brook.

Parking for the recreation area will be at the far end of the Ben-Mar Restaurant parking lot. The pedestrian bridge will connect the parking area to the park. Additional access to the park is via the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and by foot on a dirt road that was installed between the Racket Brook Recreation Area and the area of the Carbondale Skate Park in order to allow access for maintenance and construction vehicles.

Phase II of the park construction is expected to take place next summer if the YMCA’s fundraising and grant-writing efforts are successful. The second phase of construction is projected to include a pavilion, a splash pad, a toddler playground, an additional walking loop, and a hill slide.

Community members who volunteered to help with the installation process at the Community Park Build event were proud to be supporting the YMCA in its efforts to improve the quality of life for area residents.

“I think the Y is a tribute to the community. What they’ve done over the last few years is extraordinary. To do what they’ve done in a community of this size is remarkable,” said former Simpson resident Mike Wilk, who was volunteering along with his wife, Michele, his nephew Joey Baron, and his brother-in-law, Chris Baron.

Heather Murphy, development director at the YMCA, said the park will be utilized by the Y’s staff to enhance their early-learning programs for children, for special events, and for senior fitness, and possibly even for some classes, like yoga. In addition, the Racket Brook Recreation Area will be open to use by the community and those using the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.