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Community celebrates opening of Whitehall Parkway pavilion

Whitehall Township Recreation Bureau hosted The Large Flowerheads June 22 as part of the inaugural summer concert series at the new pavilion at Whitehall Parkway, 3619 S. Church St. The event also included a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new structure.

Whitehall Township became the owner of a 110-acre tract of land previously owned by Giant Portland Cement Company Nov. 12, 1984. What we know today is Whitehall Parkway was targeted as a regional landfill for the Lehigh Valley. The land was purchased for $274,000 - $2,500 per acre.

Then Executive Michael Harakal; Doug Bowen, past chairperson of Whitehall Township Authority; and Richard Farringer led the charge to preserve the open space. Today, Whitehall Parkway is home to a network of walking trails, Eagle Scout projects and nature projects championed by Whitehall Environmental Advisory Council.

Back in 2012, Mayor Edward Hozza first suggested a pavilion could replace the red caboose after it was relocated for restoration to the Chestnut Street trailhead on the Ironton Rail Trail. Since then, the Parkway was used for the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce car show, Whitehall Township Fire Bureau’s Haunted Parkway, cross-country meets, Civil War Days and other large celebrations.

The pavilion project remained dormant until 2018 when Commissioner Jeff Warren was approached by three organizations - Haunted Parkway volunteers, Civil War reenactors and Zephyr Cross Country - asking about the status of the pavilion project.

With the support of Harakal and the board of commissioners, Warren prepared a grant narrative and recreation Director Tony Cocca submitted the first of four successful grants. Chad Helmer served as grant administrator for additional awards totaling $326,000 for the pavilion construction and parking lot enhancements.

Construction started in September 2022 with the installation of water, and sewer lines and building construction continued through 2023.

The June 22 concert marked the first official event the pavilion restrooms were open to the public.

Warren thanked Harakal and the board of commissioners for supporting the effort to pursue grants for this project. Township Surveyor Carl Lagler embraced the project from day one and provided survey support and suggestions. Warren also thanked Helmer, Keystone Engineering, Northampton Borough Municipal Authority and Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority.

He additionally shared his thanks to Cocca and Brandon Hibbler, bureau chief of recreation, for working with contractors. Behind the scenes, Deputy Mayor Jack Meyers managed the finances, Lenore Brazier handled contracts, and Lee Rackus assisted with the permit process.

Warren also thanked Mayor Joe Marx for helping with some final details, New Enterprise for the donation of crushed stone for the parking lot and the public works department for completing site grading and a perfect paving job.

The pavilion project would not have been possible without the support of state Sens. Nick Miller, D-14th, and Lisa Boscola, D-18th, and state Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-133rd, and their staff who championed for funding for the project.

Additional performances in the summer concert series include Tool Shed Jack July 6, GirlCrue July 13, The Aardvarks July 27 and Steel Creek Aug. 10. Bands perform 6-9 p.m. Concerts are free to the public with food trucks and other vendors to offer refreshments.

“The Whitehall Parkway pavilion was a project several years in the making, and it is my hope this facility will allow better utilization of the Parkway and serve generations to come,” Warren said. “Like generations before us, I believe it is important that we be good stewards to our natural resources and amenities so that Whitehall remains a vibrant place to raise a family.”

Former Whitehall Township Mayor Michael Harakal and Whitehall Township Commissioner Jeff Warren cut the ribbon held by current Mayor Joseph Marx and Bureau Chief of Recreation Brandon Hibbler while Commissioner Elizabeth Fox looks on during the June 22 dedication of the new Whitehall Parkway pavilion. The event was topped off with a concert by The Large Flowerheads.
Hibbler addresses the crowd at the start of the dedication and concert event.
Harakal tells those in attendance about the history of Whitehall Parkway.
PRESS PHOTOS BY SCOTT M. NAGY The new pavilion at Whitehall Parkway is ready to serve the community.