Park History

History of Vestal Parks

As Vestal grew, Town officialdom had to decide if, when and where the residents of the town would want land set aside for recreation.

So on January 12th 1953, a meeting was called by then Supervisor Leland Jones to be held at 8:00 pm, to form a committee of residents because basically in a community of what was then 9,000, there was a need to do something for the younger people. Mr. Jones stated that “the main purpose was not just recreation but rather to make better people”. He went on to stress that he had no intention of laying out a program but rather to present the problem to the ‘Citizens Committee’. The basic objective was to find places for recreation. It was noted at this time that Twin Orchards and Vestal Center already had programs under way.

Mr. Jones formed a committee of 22 people, which seemed large, however, it provided overall Vestal representation, which would not have been possible in a smaller community. Those who made up the CITIZENS PARKS COMMITTEE for the Town of Vestal were:

Winnie Andrews
Mrs. Robert Lawhead
Jane Chittendon
Clifford Marlow
Frank Baldwin
Edward Mitchell
William Duffy
Norman Pickering
Joseph Fernbach
Glenn Quinn
May Goekel
Ford Reisinger
Raymond Graper
Rex Rose
Mrs. Richard Herman
Ralph Sampson
Mrs. Frank Hernon
Mrs. Clayton Shultz
James House
Fred Wescott
Harris Johnson
Mrs. Kenneth Yates

It was decided to elect a temporary chairman and Fred Wescott was chosen. Mr. Wescott asked for nomination for a permanent chairman of the committee. J.D. Fernbach and Mrs. R.L. Lawhead were nominated. The results of the election by ballot (with 18 members present) were 13 votes for J.D. Fernbach and 5 votes for Mrs. Lawhead.

Mr. Fernbach then took over duties as permanent chairman. Mrs. Lawhead was elected vice-chairman and Winnie Andrews was elected secretary/treasurer.

The next meeting was held on Monday, January 26th 1954. However prior to that meeting a Permanent Parks Committee was formed, which included J.D. Fernbach, R. Eckert and C.R. Marlow. Mr. Fernbach acted as chairman and Mr. Marlow as secretary of this committee.

One of the first considerations was the formation of the Joint Action Committee with a Committee from the Schools, to meet on Tuesday, January 5th, at the Vestal Central School Library.

It was decided that the Permanent Parks Committee would meet regularly on the first Tuesday of each month with special meetings to be held when necessary.

The main purpose of these initial meetings was to set up a plan of action as to acquisition of sites and location of sites. All of which, at that time, would fall under the authorization of the Town Board and the School Board.

So it was, on October 13th, 1954 that the following resolution was offered by Robert D.W. Landon, Justice of the Peace, who moved for its adoption, and seconded by William Castle, Councilman, to wit:

WHEREAS, the Town Board of the Town of Vestal, Broome County, New York is authorized under section 220 of the Town Law to provide for and establish public parks or playgrounds, acquire the necessary lands therefore and equip the same with suitable buildings, structures and appurtances; and

WHEREAS, numerous civic and cultural organizations in the Town of Vestal, together with many interested taxpayers have requested the Town Board of vestal to set and provide for a program of parks and/ or playgrounds and to acquire the necessary lands and other facilities needed in connection therewith; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Town Board of Vestal establish and equip the same with suitable buildings, structures and appurtances pursuant to section 220 of the Town Law; that the program be implemented, supervised, directed and carried out as hereinafter provided for in this resolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town Clerk of the Town of Vestal, Broome County, New York publish a certified copy of this Resolution in the official newspaper of the Town of Vestal, to wit: “The Vestal News” in its edition of October 20, 1954.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution is adopted subject to permissive referendum as provided for by Article 7 of the Town Law of the State of New York; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of Vestal shall provide for the administration, equipment and operation of a program of public parks and playgrounds pursuant to Article 13 of the General Municipal Law; that the Town Board of Vestal shall forthwith and upon the Resolution becoming effective appoint a Recreation Commission which shall possess all of the powers and be subject to all of the responsibilities of local authorities as set forth in the aforesaid Article 13 General Municipal Law, such Commission to consist of five persons who are residents of the Town of Vestal and to be appointed by the Town Board of Vestal to serve for terms of five years or until their successors are appointed, except that the members of such Commission first appointed shall be appointed for such terms that the terms of one Commissioner shall expire annually thereafter, said members to serve without pay; and

WHEREAS, it is considered opinion of the Town Board of Vestal that there is now a need in the Town of Vestal requiring the establishment of a program to provide public parks or playgrounds for residents of the Town of Vestal.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) shall be provided for, as a budgeted item in the 1955 budget for the Town of Vestal and that said sum shall be paid out in expenditures for the year 1955 and that said expenditures shall be paid from the moneys levied for the fiscal year 1955; and

A vote was then taken upon the motion for adoption with the following result:

  • Ayes - (5) Mr. Jones, Mr. Landon, Mr. Morton, Mr. Castle, Mr. Schroeder
  • Nays - (0) None
  • Absent - (0) None

The Resolution was then declared adopted by the Town Supervisor, Leland L. Jones, on October 13, 1954 by the affirmative vote of all the voting strength of the said Board.

Available records indicate that two areas, Twin Orchards park and Vestal Center had recreation areas available at the time. It is hard to say which would be considered the first park established, so consider it a tie for first place, until definite dates can be established.