It was 32 years ago, in 1991, when Doylestown Township made a $7.1 million investment into the future of our community purchasing 155 acres of farmland and turning it into a park for our community. Adjusted for inflation, they spent over $16 million to build Central Park.
That was a massive investment to make in our community. I don’t have the meeting minutes from over three decades ago in front of me, but I’m sure there were many varied opinions about this decision from residents at the time – just like we have many voices and opinions today. Looking back on it though, I assume most of us would agree that that board made the right choice to invest in Doylestown’s future.
I was 5 then. Many of the neighborhoods we have today didn’t even exist yet. Hundreds of new families moved into Doylestown after Central Park was purchased and it wouldn’t surprise me if that park played some role in the decision to move here.
I can’t begin to count the number of fond memories I’ve made with family and friends at Central Park over those 30 years. I’m fortunate to still be close friends with people I met at Kutz Elementary who I spent countless hours with at Central Park. From Oktoberfest to the Relay For Life, sledding down snow covered hills and the opening of Kid’s Castle to our concerts and festivals, it’s impossible to tell how many hours I’ve spent here. And now, my 7-year-old son has those same opportunities and more. That’s just my story. How many thousands of stories and memories were made here because of that investment in 1991?
It’s not just memories either. Our community sees tangible benefits. Those neighborhoods I mentioned earlier all got to benefit from having one of Bucks County’s crown jewel parks in their backyard. Our businesses benefit from people coming to Central Park and needing places to shop and eat. Those little league coaches have to take their winning teams out for victory pizza somewhere. And speaking from personal experience, it’s a place for a tired parent who needs something to do with their kids for a couple hours to get a break.
A little more than 30 years later, we can make a new investment in Central Park and our community for another 30 years. Despite some characterizations, this project isn’t just constructing a building. It’s more than that. It’s renovating our courts for decades of future games of tennis, basketball, pickle ball and whatever new sports might be invented. It’s putting bathrooms by Kid’s Castle for parent’s racing against the clock to avoid unfortunate accidents.
The building itself is more than a generic building with a gym. It’s a place for children to learn new activities, hobbies and lifetime passions. It’s a place for our senior citizens to come and participate in activities that they might not have access to otherwise. It’s a place for families to rent for celebrations. There’s the gym which is open to more than league sports and provides an indoor space for activities of all types and all ages. We have ideas how we can use this facility tomorrow and in 30 years residents will be having events there we never imagined today.
I’m not dismissing the cost of the project and its impact on our taxpayers. I’m proud of my record voting to keep costs down. Several times I’ve been in the minority on these votes. Supervisor Herring and I voted against including the gymnasium. Later, I joined Supervisor Lyons against adding additional court space.
Even though there are additions I disagree with, I still see the project as a worthwhile investment for our community, addressing the expressed needs of our residents. This isn’t something being done on a whim. This has been discussed for several years, even before I was elected in 2019. Public discussions, committee meetings, outreach to our community partners and ample public debate have shaped this to be a reflection of our Doylestown’s vision for the future.
I think back to 1991. I think about the $16 million in today’s money the township chose to invest in Central Park and the massive boon it turned out to be for Doylestown. Like investing in roads, this is an investment in what we want our Doylestown community to have future access to.
As I wrote this down, I can’t begin to tell you how truly fortunate I feel to have been able to grow up alongside Central Park. I’m 36 now and just took for granted that it has always been there. I’m looking forward to watching my son and his peers grow up with it and taking for granted the improvements this community can add to our park today.