Wetmore Park across from the Warren County Courthouse was intended as green space since the town was laid out in 1795.
In more recent times, the park has been maintained as a woodlawn garden by the Warren Garden Club, highlighting many plant species native to Pennsylvania.
But there’s concern about how that space will be maintained moving forward.
Kris Whitaker, a member of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Landscape Commission and Garden Club treasurer, outlined the challenges during this week’s meeting.
“Our membership is down to 26 members,” she said. “We’re coming to a point of saying it’s difficult for us to maintain the parks that we do.”
The Garden Club currently maintains the portion of Crescent Park between the Hickory St. Bridge and US 6, Wetmore Park, the gardens at the city building and Celeron Park.
“What we’re approaching is a point of saying to the city ‘We can’t do this anymore. (We’re) giving you back the parks,” she explained. “We don’t want to give them up but we’re facing realities. Trying to recruit members is very difficult.”
Whitaker said the Club will be maintaining the parks this year and explained that several members would still volunteer to help even if the Club stepped aside.
She said the original plan for Wetmore Park – what plants were there and where they are – has been found and that it will require some Department of Public Works help to restore the park to that original design.
According to the city, Wetmore Park was intended as a public park when Andrew Ellicott completed his 1795 survey of Warren. It was known as Public Square before it was re-named for Wetmore, a local industrialist who was instrumental in the founding of the Warren Public Library.
City Manager Mike Holtz said the intention of Wetmore was to be a “natural habitat park.”
Whitaker said that some of the original plantings are “so overgrown” that they have overgrown the native plants.
“(We’ve) identified where all those are now,” she said. “We just need to get in and clean it out.”
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