Pictured left to right: Mr. Dustien Garman, Saint Francis Student Government Association; Ms. Karen Niessner, 1st Summit Bank Employee Foundation; Mr. Wayne Harrington, president, Loretto Borough Council; Fr. Gabriel Zeis, president of Saint Francis University; Mr. Michael McGuire, McGuire family representative; State Senator John Wozniak; Ms. Jane Sheffield, Allegheny Ridge Corporation; and Representative Gary Haluska.
On Thursday, May 9, representatives from Loretto Borough and Saint Francis University joined together with honored guests to break ground for the Captain Michael McGuire Memorial Park (view rendering).
Drawing inspiration from Loretto Borough’s history, the park will be a multi-use community facility that will promote health and fitness while celebrating the historical and cultural heritage of Loretto and connecting with the town’s ongoing revitalization efforts. It will have features such as picnic tables, grills, benches, bike racks, restrooms, fitness paths, workout stations, and playground equipment to give users a variety of options for health and wellness activities.
In addition, interpretive signs will be stationed throughout the park with local historical information including the story of Captain Michael McGuire, a Revolutionary War hero who established “the McGuire Settlement” which Prince Demetrious Gallitzin later developed into Loretto. Additional signage detailing the local environment habitat will be complemented by an outdoor classroom with a bird blind, rain gardens, and native PA plantings.
Mr. Wayne Harrington, president of Loretto Borough Council, noted the addition of a community park is the latest effort in Borough Council’s ongoing mission to renew Loretto for residents and visitors alike. “We’ve been working for several years to revitalize and beautify downtown Loretto, embarking on two major streetscape projects and rebuilding our infrastructure. McGuire Park was the missing piece in the puzzle: a place for residents to have fun and help build our community identity.”
Fr. Gabriel Zeis, president of Saint Francis University, added “When we first looked at this idea with the Borough, we wanted to develop a park that was going to be more than just playground equipment and outdoor grills. Our desire was to construct a project that would honor the legacy of Captain Michael McGuire and everything that he set in motion. Subsequently, this park will not only celebrate the historical and cultural heritage of Loretto but also embrace the Franciscan tradition of education and caring for and protecting the environment.”
Construction on McGuire Park is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2014. Funding for the project was provided in part by a grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program.
The park has also benefited from the generous support of several community partners including Ameriserv Financial, 1st Summit Bank Employee Foundation, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, the Allegheny Ridge Corporation, Keller Engineers, the Saint Francis University Student Government Association, members of the McGuire family, and an anonymous donor.