ELIZABETHTOWN — With picnic benches, an interpretive trail, climbing trees and walls, and a pebble harp, Footbridge Park was designed for the entire Elizabethtown community.
Through the efforts of numerous volunteers, local government and energetic visionaries, such as Jessica Darney Buehler and Meg Parker, it was decided that work needed to be done to Elizabethtown’s landmark footbridge and that a park would be created near it.
“It was envisioned that children would have a community play area and people of all ages and abilities would have access to walk or roll through nature in an appealing setting close to town,” Buehler said.
“This project was designed to increase access to places for physical activity as a means of preventing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”
FELL INTO DISREPAIR
The landmark bridge, in existence since the 1800s, has been a connective link between the upper and lower portions of the village and is part of popular routes for strollers and joggers. In the 1960s, a popular town-supported swimming hole with lifeguards was located near the bridge.
Over the years, the area by the footbridge fell into disuse and disrepair. Last year, the aging footbridge, constructed with wood planking that was often vandalized, was replaced with a composite walkway and sides. The steep approach from the top of the hill to the bridge was made safer by a lesser gradient new surface and a handrail.
The landscape adjacent to the bridge had been overgrown with weeds and was often littered with debris from late-night parties.
In addition, the park had suffered flood damage, and pallets of stacked sandbags and debris were left from previous stabilization intentions.
“In all regards, the area had become unattractive and underutilized,” Buehler said. “There was not an existing community or town playground.”