Having 2 boys that are very active in extracurricular activities, I literally have to shuffle them to something every night of the week. For 4 of the 7 days I am lucky enough to be going to Marti Park for soccer practice or a game. As I write this final article on the Marti Family Legacy I am sitting in the pavilion watching giggling children kick misdirected soccer balls around, listening to the birds chirp and the creek babble behind me. It is hard to believe that this picturesque park was once just a field of dreams.
I have never really thought about how parks and public places become what they are. I have had the pleasure of learning about New Wilmington’s own Marti Park from the family that bares its name. My one regret through this whole process is that I never was able to meet Jacobo Marti; it would have been a true honor. It is my hope that through these few articles, and the people that they may reach, that his legacy will be remembered fondly in our community.
In 1985 the property that is currently called Marti Park was approved by Wilmington Township to become a recreation facility. During the discussions and planning for the park, fundraising was necessary. Many people in the community donated money and items such as benches and trees. The naming of the park would be based on whoever contributed the most money to the development of the park.
John Drespling from the township knew that Jacobo (Jack) Marti had sold his businesses and had since retired. Jack was always one who would help a neighbor in need without wanting any recognition. Jack Marti was instantly excited about the idea of helping make a park for the township! The borough had a park, but no sports fields. Jack wasn’t excited about naming the park in his name however. He didn’t want to draw any attention to himself in that way. John talked with Jack and Jane and told them what a wonderful legacy naming the park for the family would be. At this time Jack and Jane didn’t have any grandchildren. They realized that when they did they would be able to come and play at the park their grandparents helped make. So, after much thought it was agreed that the park would indeed be named Marti Park.
When you talk to the Marti family about the park everyone immediately says how proud that Jack was to have had a hand in the creation of the park. Jack would take deposits to the bank and take the long way home to be able to drive by and see the children playing soccer. Jack loved soccer! He would come home and say “Jane, you should have seen all the kids at the park today!” The joy Jack felt watching the park turn into what it had become was palpable. To keep the intended selfless stewardship of the park, the board voted to always have a Marti Family member on it. Dan Kennedy, Jack and Jane’s son-in-law, currently holds the legacy position on the board. I am sure that Jack is looking down on Dan and Debbie with pride as he watches all they do to maintain and continue to improve the park for future generations.
The park officially opened for public use in 1988. In 1994 Dan and Debbie Kennedy spearheaded the campaign to add in playground equipment. Over the years the park has expanded to include:4 pavilions, 8 soccer fields, 1 softball field, a half basketball court, horseshoe pit, multiple charcoal grills, and a nature trail. As great as all these things are, the Marti’s and the rest of the park board aren’t done yet! Debbie has been working tirelessly on multiple grants for improvements around the park.
I always hear rumblings about what is going on with the park, so I have inquired about the future goals. First of all, keeping soccer at the park is one of the priorities. Jack Marti loved watching the children playing soccer! The upcoming desired improvements are as follows: replace the playground equipment, install a sensory trail for the developmentally challenged, install sidewalks to the restroom, pavilions, and playground, put in a toddler playground near the entrance of the park by the wooden train, and hopefully the year after install a compost restroom and playground area near the nature trail and pavilion over the hill. The board would also like to build an ADA compliant trail around the fields and improve the drainage and storm water system for the entire facility. Well I don’t know about you, but I get tired just reading this list! The above list will not be a cheap endeavor, and the desired timeframe for completion is the fall of 2019.
With multiple grants in the process of being applied for, and generous tax-deductible donations from the community, hopefully the Marti Park Board will reach their goal. When I think about how wonderful all these improvements will be for the community I am thrilled! Another thing I think about is how proud Jack Marti would be of the continued enjoyment that will be had at the park that bears his name. I know that Jane Marti is very proud of Dan, Debbie, and the entire board for their continued efforts to make Marti Park the best it can be.
If you would like to keep up with the goings on at Marti Park, please follow their Facebook page. One upcoming event is an Amish Craft show August 25th. The Marti Park Board would love to see you enjoying the Amish wares and food that our Amish neighbors have to offer as well as English crafters, a silent auction, and a 50/50 raffle. I personally will be looking for the Amish Donut area. If you would like to have an event for your organization, contact a member of the board either on Facebook or stop in or call the township building at 724-946-2560 and leave a message. The township would be glad to get the information to Debbie or Dan.
When the township wrote up its ordinance back in 1988 for the park, they allowed the township to give Marti Park $3500 per year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t even cover the mowing of the grass, let alone leave anything left for improvements. Since its creation, the park is still only receiving the same allocation of $3500 for maintenance, grounds work, repairs, and improvements annually. Obviously, the park board really needs to find new ways to bring revenue into the park so that they can not only maintain the park; but modernize it and make it somewhere the whole community continues to enjoy.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Marti Park Foundation you can either log onto comm-foundation.org and scroll to the bottom of the Home page and donate with your debit or credit card, or simply send a check written out to Community Foundation and on the memo line please write Marti Park. You can mail your donation to:
7 West State Street Suite 301
C/O Marti Park
Sharon, PA 16146
Many who live here may take for granted how serene our community is. As I sit here, finishing this edition of Jenny’s Pennies, I feel truly blessed. Sitting at the picnic table watching an Amish buggy roll by, the children laughing on the playground, and an intense U10 soccer scrimmage, I can feel the pride from above as I am sure Jack Marti is looking down with a smile on his face.