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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)
The head of North Huntingdon's parks department offered a solution last week to the township's problem of not having enough athletic fields when all of the community's sports teams want to use them "" install lights to allow for night games rather than build more ballfields.
"I believe the better answer is lights and then you increase usage," Dan Miller, the township's director of parks and recreation, said during a meeting where officials sought input for a study that Environmental Planning & Design of Pittsburgh is conducting for the township.
The firm has studied the township's 11 parks for about six months and is expected to issue recommendations in October.
Results of a survey on recreational needs indicated that residents want more ballfields and paved trails for hiking and biking, said Jayson Livingston, a senior associate at Environmental Planning.
North Huntingdon needs more fields that are community-based and accessible rather than in neighborhood parks, said Amy Johnson, president of the Norwin Lacrosse League. Those parks have limited parking and facilities.
The lack of playing fields and wet spring weather forced the Norwin Community Athletic Association to shorten its spring season, said Andy DeFazio, community liaison manager for the association, which offers baseball, flag football and other athletic programs to about 600 youngsters.
But new fields could take up to three years to build, Livingston said.
While Oak Hollow Park has athletic fields and is spread across about 27 acres. Commissioner Mike Faccenda Jr. said the park's hilly terrain is not suited to building more recreational facilities because that would require moving a lot of soil, which is costly.
If the township were to build more athletic fields, it should be done in the cleared green space rather than cutting down more wooded areas, said Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, a Westmoreland County-based environmental organization.
"I would hate to see the township cut down trees to build another field. There is a shortage of fields, but there also is a shortage of green space" with all of the development occurring, Reiter said.
Bob Arth, who has complained about the township dumping roadway refuse over a hillside at Hilltop Park, said the township should use its public lands more efficiently. Hilltop Park could be a site for hiking trails, Arth said.
Miller said he would present his recommendations to Mike Turley, assistant township manager, for review. Any proposal would be presented to the township commissioners by Nov. 1 for their deliberations on the 2018 budget.
Environmental Planning's study will review possible funding sources for the parks and recreation department.
"They want realistic projects that can be funded," Livingston said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or [email protected]
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