Restoration begins at Way’s Garden with arbor

A Wisteria Arbor may be the next visible evidence of a transformation occurring at Way’s Garden, a century-old garden enclosed in a wrought iron fence at the corner of West Fourth and Maynard streets.

Imagine Ionic columns topped with red cedar beams as the flower blooms in purple, said Bob Esposito, chairman of the Way’s Garden Commission.

The commission met Thursday. Members unanimously approved the arbor.

“It comes in a kit,” Esposito said. “It costs about $5,000 … We have that in our fund.”

Rather than wait for word on whether the city is awarded all or part of a $180,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, governed by the Commonwealth Finance Authority, Esposito thought it was important to let the city residents see some visible evidence of restoration in progress, especially over the fall and winter months.

The garden grounds are the site of proms, weddings and the Bald Eagle Art Club annual show.

“We want to continue to capture the hearts of visitors for the next 100 years,” Esposito said.

Bill Kelly, deputy director of the county Department of Planning and Community Development, said a decision on the grant may be made before the end of the year.

The money is from a special Marecellus Shale legacy fund retained at the state level, he said.

“To sweeten the pot, the county did the grant writing and research,” Kelly said.

Commissioners permitted use of $10,000 of natural gas impact fees toward the application for the local match. In addition, the city contributed $15,000 toward the match. Privately, First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania added about $9,000 and Way’s Garden Commission contribution more than $20,000, he said.