Site of gas explosion could become park

New Hope officials want to put a mini park at 52 W. Ferry St.

By: Linda Seida
   NEW HOPE — The site of an explosive tragedy will be transformed into a scene of peace and tranquility when a plan proposed by the Borough Council comes to fruition.
   Construction of a park is planned for 52 W. Ferry St., where an explosion in February destroyed a 200-year-old stone house. Five people in two apartments made it out of the structure just seconds before a ruptured gas main caused the blast that brought down the structure.
   The site is undergoing an environmental assessment. If all goes as planned, construction could begin during the summer of 2006, Borough Manager John Burke said.
   Earlier this month, the borough signed an agreement of sale for the .163-acre property, which is owned by David and Mark Del Negro. The property was appraised at $277,000, but New Hope negotiated a sale price of $260,000, according to Mr. Burke.
   The assessment was performed by DCR Environmental Services Inc. of Abington, Pa.
   The borough will pay $187,772 of the purchase price. An additional $72,228 will come from Bucks County’s open space funds.
   A federal grant in the amount of $16,700 will go toward planning and design costs associated with the park’s design.
   The new park’s design "depends on how complex residents and the council want it to be," Mr. Burke said.
   He estimated design costs could total between $30,000 and $35,000.
   The long, narrow lot is situated between West Ferry and West Bridge streets and bordered on the south by Stockton Avenue and the railroad tracks.
   Under consideration for the proposed park is a water feature, such as a fountain, some sculpture and controlled access. The park likely will be open only from dawn to dusk.
   The watchwords are "safe, secure, and serene," Mr. Burke said.
   The idea to turn the Ferry Street site into the borough’s third and largest park originated with Council President Richard Hirschfield and members of the council. In March, a month after the explosion, they directed attorney Terry Clemons to contact the Del Negros’ attorney.
   The borough owns two smaller mini parks, one on Ferry Landing and the other on Randolph Street.