2019-03-16 / Viewpoints

Arboretum outcome a ‘win’

By GeorGeanna DeCarlo

(Georgeanna DeCarlo is a former Coudersport-based news reporter and a supporter of the Friends of the Coudersport Arboretum Inc.).

We are fortunate to have a unique community asset -- a living tribute that inspires recognition that our loved ones will always be remembered, instills a sense of reverence, and a mindfulness to be thoughtful of how we will be remembered.

Coudersport Arboretum is one of the local projects assisted by former Coudersport Borough Manager Marlin “Mud” Moore who passed away last April. Through the nearly 30 years that Moore was manager, he was dedicated to improving our community without passing the financial burden to the public.

He became adept at reusing historical properties in a new way and securing grants. The new borough maintenance facility was paid for when it was finished. In 2013, when Moore retired, the only debt that the borough had was related to the recent overhaul of water and sewer service.

It’s no easy task to grow a community economically while balancing needs and will of the people. But Mud did it with a smile on his face. He encouraged people to be involved, had an easygoing attitude, and was eager to support people’s initiatives.

A description of Mud Moore’s, and many other community members’, appreciation of what the Coudersport Arboretum represents can be found in a 12-year-old state grant application. It cited these goals for the community park:

• create spaces that remove visitors from the surrounding environment physically and emotionally;

• provide an area of serenity, beauty, and education;

• create areas for continuing education, and memorials;

• create a valuable asset that continues to grow with the community for generations.

The document spoke of the Coudersport & Port Allegany Railroad heritage features in the park, plantings and walkways.

It also pointed out that the arboretum grounds are the last portion of what was recognized as a “beauty spot” in a municipal park by community leaders nearly 100 years ago.

C&PA Railroad superintendent R. A. Knox led the transformation of this “unsightly accumulation of railroad tracks, ties, lumber, stone, wood and in fact a little of all commodities handled by the railroad” to a public square with “native shrubbery, artistic paths (and) a demonstration in landscape architecture.”

A 1928 newspaper Potter County Journal article reported, “It will serve to show people the proper arrangement of the various shrubs and trees. It will be an incentive to individuals to plant their home grounds. Coudersport with her setting among the hills will be made more beautiful with home planting . . . The people of the town will no doubt appreciate the work being done.”

Contrast that with the current news stories informing us that Borough Council members Todd Husson, George Hults, Wayne Hathaway and Gary Walaski and Coudersport Mayor Andy Dubots have at one time or another voted to sell a portion of those hallowed grounds, despite the advice of their own solicitor, Dan Glassmire, that they were legally prohibited from doing so.

Their action was unanimously supported by Potter County Redevelopment Authority members David Buckler, Shawn Wolfinger, Phil Vaughn, Jeff Wilcox and Terry Goodenough, as well as that agency’s long-time director John Wright and Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover.

As we move forward following last month’s court ruling in favor of Friends of the Arboretum Inc. who challenged the sale in civil litigation, I hope that in this election year we will recognize that it takes integrity, honor and, yes, even joy, to grow a community.

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