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Groups plan photo display for Massena park

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MASSENA — Smiling faces of Massena residents could greet visitors to the East Orvis Street Park by Independence Day.

Massena resident Lawrence I. Prashaw is working with local organizations to create a permanent photo display called “We are Massena,” which he hopes to have in place by July 4.

Mr. Prashaw said he hopes the project will rejuvenate the park.

“Years ago, the East Orvis Street merchants were given the task of trying to develop the East Orvis Park. By and large we did all we could do. As the members faded off and the association went its own way, the only thing active there was the (soap box) derby. Every time I go by there, I’m thinking something ought to be done,” he said.

One day, Mr. Prashaw said, he was watching a television show that gave him inspiration for the park.

“A guy was doing kind of a midlife crisis thing on a motorcycle through Canada. At one place he stopped, the whole wall was covered with photographs. I thought, ‘That’s a pretty neat idea,’” he said.

He said Mayor James F. Hidy has expressed an interest in getting the community involved in activities, so he ran the proposal by him informally and was told it was a good idea.

Mr. Prashaw said the display will include more than 400 pictures of Massena residents and/or their families.

“They will be without names. That’s what makes it interesting. They not only have to find them, but identify them. It will be close enough that they can drive up and view it,” he said.

The estimated cost for the project is $750, and the Massena Electric Department, Massena Department of Public Works, St. Lawrence Glass and Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce have committed in-kind services such as poles, lighting, surface preparation, block setting, advertising and hands-on photo preparation and selection.

Civic organizations have also expressed an interest in helping.

“There are a bunch of groups that are involved,” said Michael J. Gleason, executive director of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the photo display, Mr. Prashaw said, there may be the addition of picnic tables “to kind of bring back visitors. It used to be quite a venue for people who wanted to take lunch. Some would go down there just to read a book.”

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