The Serenity Glass Park in Port Allegany will move forward in the next few weeks, despite news of the closing of the Pittsburgh Corning glass block plant.
Susan Carlson, project chair, is optimistic that the project will provide a focal point to highlight the various attractions in the area and increase pride in the capabilities of local businesses.
“We always suspected that a closure could happen,” she said. “One of the goals of Serenity Glass Park was to really support the industry. I’m not done fighting for it. I am not in the mood to see the hard work done by all of us go without resolution. You never know as a volunteer what an uphill battle needs to be fought. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, trying to figure out what is our next step.”
Carlson explained the project is in the works, with hope to see completion by the end of the summer.
“We have started building. We have put in the structural bases,” Carlson said. “Despite the tragedy of Pittsburgh Corning closing, we are on track to do this. We sent a letter to supporters to let them know we intend to accomplish goals, which we always intended to do. Now, it is more important than ever to put the display together. It is going to be gorgeous.”
The Serenity Glass Park will include five mural panels, each four feet by 12 feet, standing almost 16 feet in the air and weighing one ton. Each panel has a different theme; Americana, Building Blocks of Industry, In The Woods, Building Blocks of Business and Scrapbook. The panels will highlight various sponsors of the project, as well as attractions that are noteworthy in this area.
“There is nothing in the entire world exactly like what we are doing,” Carlson said. “I don’t think anyone is printing on glass; this is a technology that Pitt Corning is developing that other people have applied in other ways but not in the way we are doing it.”
The park will also include a Wall of Inspiration, where brass plaques will show sponsors from the area that contributed and also display messages from those who purchased individual blocks.
“These blocks tell the story of who people were at the time of construction,” Carlson said. “The messages are really fun. Some are humorous, some are poignant. One is from a grandmother to her granddaughter, who is 10 months old. That child will be able to come back and visit when she grows up and read the message from a grandmother who has since passed on.”
A glass castle is also planned, which will have three entrances and will have trellises and lights and provide access to hidden gardens for those who venture within.
“We are hoping to stay on schedule and that weather and circumstances won’t prevent us putting up the five panels by the end of May,” Carlson said. “By June, people will start to see glass arches being built and the brick structure being built. Toward the end of summer, we hope we will raise the money to build the castle.”
The funds for the project are being collected through the sale of the blocks, which are available at multiple locations.
“The blocks can be purchased at 30 locations in six counties and two states,” she said. “It is truly a regional effort.”
The Serenity Glass Park Project is a collaboration between the McKean County Redevelopment Authority, Pittsburgh Corning and the Port Allegany Area Economic Development Corp.
“Dusty Dennis of the McKean County Housing Authority and Bob Lehman, plant manager at Pittsburgh Corning, have been pitching in since the beginning and have been wonderful,” Carlson said. “We started with people from different backgrounds and we each knew people that could contribute in different ways. We have had great support, and the level of excitement and cooperation was astounding. We couldn’t have pulled this off without that support.
“All the people are top-level. We found the most gifted people we could, and they are all local. People underrate the talent, intelligence and capability of people in this area.”