History of Town Parks

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.

Town Parks and their history:

  • African Road Park, located just south of the Vestal Parkway east on African Road, from which it received its name. The two acres of land which became the park was given to the Town as a gift, by Robert W. Mead, a developer from Endwell, NY in 1968. 

  • Arnold Park, (previously known as Pierce Hill Park), is located on Andrews Road off Pierce Hill Road. This park started as a 27 acre park, the land being purchased from Ira Arnold in 1960.

It was first named for its location on Pierce Hill, and was renamed for Ira ‘Pop’ Arnold in 1964. the vestal Town Board renamed the park to honor the memory of long time resident Ira ‘Pop’ Arnold, who had been killed in an automobile accident in 1963. The recommendation for the name change came from the Vestal Parks commission. At the same time the Town was in the process of adding another fifty-eight acres (about 35 of which was to come from ‘Pops’ estate) and about 15 acres from Mr. and Mrs. Atwater. There are also about ten other small parcels involved. It is hoped that with these acquisitions the park will become a 100 acre recreational area.

There was an all day celebration of dedication on June 20th 1964, when the parks name was changed from Pierce Hill Park to Arnold Park.

Today Arnold Park is the largest park in Vestal, with areas that can accommodate picnics, as well as a variety of sports.

  • Barlow Park, located on the west side of Main Street opposite Hazel Drive. It was named for past Town Clerk William Barlow. 

  • Castle Gardens Park, located on Garden Lane, and named after its location in Castle Gardens. 
  • City Line Park, named for its location on the north side of the Vestal Parkway East at the line between the Town of Vestal and the City of Binghamton. It was sold in 1994 and was developed as a small line mall. 
  • David Avenue Park, located on David Avenue off NYS Route 26S, and named for it’s location. 
  • Ethel Place Park, named for its location, on Ethel Place. The land was purchased by the Town in 1950, from the Vestal Lumber Company. 
  • Four Corners Park, named for its location. The name was changed to Memorial Park. This park developed when the highway configuration changed from a five-corner configuration which at the time was formed by what was then State Route 17, North Main Street, South Main Street and Front Street meeting at the same point. This was considered a dangerous traffic hazard, and so Front Street was changed to meet Main Street at its present location. This change created a four corner intersection, forming a triangular piece of land with no apparent usage, other than to make a park area. In 1970, then Supervisor Joe B. Munk approached the district engineer of the State Highway Department, with a request for permission to let the Town of Vestal develop this ‘island’. The Town would operate and maintain it as a park, giving it its name. 
  • Memorial Park (Four Corners Park) is now used for memorial services, summer band concerts, weddings and a meeting place. 
  • Fuller Hollow Park, named for its location, though it is on Marietta Drive. 
  • Harold Moore Park, located on Old Vestal Road, was named for Harold Moore. 
  • Jones Park, located on State Line Road, was once called State Line Park, but was renamed for long time resident and past Town Supervisor Leland L. Jones. The Town of Vestal purchased 311 acres from Claude McPherson to be developed as a park in 1968. Jones Park Map 
  • Magnolia Drive Park, named for its location. 
  • Middendorf Park, located off Juneberry Road, (Now West Sheedy Road), was named for Frank Middendorf who previously owned the property. 
  • Richards Avenue Park, named for its location. 
  • Ross Corners Park, named for its location in Ross Corners. 
  • Stair Park, named for its developer Arthur L. Stair, is located on Murray Hill Road. First considered in June 1971. 
  • Stratford Drive Park, named for its location. 
  • Twin Orchards Park, located on Myrtle Street, is named for its location in the Twin Orchards area, and probably one of the first parks in the town. 
  • Vestal Center Park, located on Coleman Street. 
  • Vestal Memorial Pool, located on Clayton Avenue, is named for the Towns War Veterans. After nearly a year of dreaming, planning and hard work, the Vestal Memorial Swimming Pool was completed and dedicated on May 29th 1965.