Playrow Plaza: A New Space for Bethlehem Kids
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BETHLEHEM, Pa. (WLVT) - On the edge of historic Bethlehem sits City Hall and the public library. In between them is Payrow Plaza, named after former mayor H. Gordon Payrow, Jr.

Overlooking the city’s south side, the plaza comes alive during performances and events, but now, it's getting a new look and a new purpose.

"We get a lot of foot traffic, a lot of families and children, and there was really nothing for them to do," said Kristen Wenrich, the city's health director.

City employees from the health and recreation bureaus spent the day painting an obstacle course designed with kids in mind.

"This is Payrow Plaza. We said, 'Wouldn’t it be great to name this Playrow Plaza?'" Wenrich said.

"This is a great place to keep kids here and have them do something beside aimlessly run around," said Sherri Penchishen, the director of chronic disease programs at the city's health bureau.

The city says transforming the plaza will promote fitness, with stations set-up for squats, jumping jacks, lunges and planks.

"We have lots of different things for coordination, flexibility, agility, strength, endurance," Penchishen said, "so, we're trying to encompass it all right here on the plaza."

The transformation has been about two years in the making, Wenrich said, and because a garage is underneath the plaza, the city couldn't build an actual playground.

The plaza is an older structure, according to Wenrich, and Penchishen said replacement tiles would have been expensive. Instead, the city used about $6,000 in grant funding to design the play area with stencils and paint.

"We wanted physical activity, but we also wanted some learning activities, so we kind of combined the two concepts together," Wenrich said.

"Parents can teach them as they're jumping, playing around, getting physical activity," Penchishen said. "It's a learning lesson as well."

Playrow Plaza complements the city's bike share program and "Story Walk," an interactive trail around the library.

"We're trying just to draw families here and again promote good health and nutrition and improve quality of life for everyone here in the city of Bethlehem," Penchishen said.

Wenrich said Playrow Plaza will be ready for kids to enjoy as soon as the paint dries, which is expected to be Wednesday.