In 2016, with the encouragement of the community, Topton Borough Council decided their park was going to be a priority investment for their time, money, and resources. Ever since, Isett has supported the borough with this venture every step of the way. Our Landscape Architecture team led the planning process to create the 10-year Topton Park Master Plan that paved the path for the recreational improvements. Our Grants team acquired over $1.42 million for Topton’s park-associated improvements. Two of the five grants received are funding the improvements currently being constructed: a new playground, basketball court, and pavilion—designed by Isett’s Municipal team with the construction overseen by the Project Management & Construction Services group.
The 10-acre Topton Park is in the heart of the borough: It is easily accessible from nearly every neighborhood, borders part of the business district, is home to borough hall, and is situated across the street from the middle school and a few blocks from the elementary school. It is frequented daily by residents from the greater Topton Community. As the borough’s only public park, its heavy use led to many worn and outdated facilities. Several years back, the “Project Pro” effort formed in Topton: a group of volunteers met to discuss park improvements and next steps. This effort encouraged Council to commission a grassroots-driven master site planning process. For five months, Isett worked with the borough, a committee of community leaders, and the public to ensure the final concept plan offered something for all ages and abilities and would meet the needs of the community into the future.
The first phase of the plan called for the creation of a new tee-ball field (phase I) on the site of the former wooden playground: a project that filled a need and found a new use for an area of the park that is hidden from view. This was completed with in-house and volunteer labor and equipment, and was partially-funded with a grant from the ESSA Bank & Trust Foundation.
Two of the plan’s next phases are currently under construction: an excited community eagerly awaits the completion of the new playground, basketball court, and pavilion. These projects were partially funded by two state grants totaling $450,000; Isett’s Grants’ team completed the two successful grant applications that made these projects possible—from both the Departments of Community & Economic Development (DCED) and Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR).
The new fence-enclosed play area replaces an existing playground that though well-used, was not ADA accessible, and offered outdated and worn out equipment—which could pose a pending risk to safety. The demand for this park feature from the community was significant, because the new play area not only had to replace the existing playground, but also had to fill the void that still remained from a wooden playground that was removed over 15 years ago—a sentimental topic within the community. The new play area occupies a significantly larger space and features modern equipment to appeal to both 2-5 and 5-12-year-old age groups, as well as pour-in-place safety surfacing which unifies the playground sites. The main playground structure incorporates two 12’ towers, which are the highest equipment available, located at the highest point in the park—giving children a commanding view of the entire park. The playground also incorporates musical instruments to foster multi-sensory skills for all abilities, as well as the new Gaga pit, which was constructed as a local Eagle Scout project.
The new fenced-enclosed basketball court with LED lighting is built to full-size court dimensions to maximize its use, and located in an area of the park that is visible from the street—replacing the old court that was undersized, in poor condition, and hidden from view.
The new pavilion being constructed is replacing the former pavilion that, while regularly used and rented throughout the season, was dark, in need of repairs, and offered limited ADA access. Adjacent to the new pavilion is a level lawn area to support community activities, as well as a new sand volleyball court.
Isett also helped secure two additional grants to implement the borough’s vision outlined in their plan:
Recommended out of the master plan process, the borough was awarded DCNR funding to study the feasibility of building a new recreation center and expanded public pool facility. These would augment the already wildly successful pool and recreational programming for residents of all ages. A community recreation center addition to the borough hall would provide social gathering place for indoor programming and community events. The study is underway, but when complete, will guide prospective funding and construction of those facilities in the future.
When the current construction project comes to an end, another very visible project will begin—changing the landscape and usability of the park forever. Thanks in part to an over $900,000 award from PennDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, an interior trail and pedestrian bridge over Toad Creek will be installed, as well as sidewalks to connect the park and its paths to the middle school. This project will seamlessly interconnect the neighborhoods, the park, and the school and will expand options for park users to move between the different areas of the park—which is bisected by Toad Creek.
Congruent with the park improvements, Toad Creek is undergoing a second phase of streambank stabilization as part of a separate DEP-funded project that was initiated several years ago. The project not only corrects issues of erosion, but also will diversify the riparian buffer and provide much desired access to the water’s edge.
The borough’s goal is to completely makeover the park in time for their 250th anniversary celebration in 2026.