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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)
North Huntingdon officials are forging ahead with two studies of the township's needs for parks and recreation, an initiative prompted last year by residents requesting more facilities, including multi-sport athletic fields and park improvements.
"We want to see what is feasible and practical. We're expanding the vision for departmental growth as well as expanding the parks," said Daniel Miller, director of parks and recreation.
Environmental Planning & Design LLC of Pittsburgh was selected to develop a comprehensive plan for parks and recreation, the first since 2002, Miller said. The township maintains 11 parks spread across about 26 square miles.
"They're familiar with the needs of the township," Miller said.
Environmental Planning & Design could not be reached for comment.
Richard P. Rauso of Landscape Architects of Penn Township was selected to formulate a master plan to determine the feasibility of a 6.5-acre township-owned parcel off Craig Drive in Markvue Manor. The green space had been a neighborhood park, Miller said.
The studies should help the township determine if any land is available for parks in areas with no recreational facilities and what the township can offer in terms of programming and staffing, Miller said.
"We want to move as quickly as possible," Miller said. "Within this year, we want to have a plan in place."
Miller said he would like the studies to start in late spring and conclude by September, when the township begins work on the 2018 budget. Public meetings to gather input would be part of the process, he said.
North Huntingdon selected the firms after issuing requests for qualifications and are working on agreements for the projects, Miller said. The township has earmarked $50,000 in its 2017 parks and recreation department budget to hire consultants for the studies.
The parks department has identified the Markvue Manor wooded area as a potential site for recreational amenities. The sloped property has some level land accessible off Hedy Lynn Drive. But some of the area is marred by garbage strewn over an embankment.
Rauso Landscape likely would consider the topography, soil and existing vegetation in the park. The company would consult with neighbors and review the results with township officials, including the cost of construction and maintenance, Rauso said.
"We would consider all these elements and come up with a master plan," Rauso said.
Township commissioners in June ordered a study of parks and recreational facilities.
Amy Johnson, president of the Norwin Lacrosse League, lobbied the commissioners last year for artificial turf fields for use by local athletic teams.
North Huntingdon had joined forces with Irwin, North Irwin and the Norwin School District in 2009 and 2010 in considering the construction of a 60,000-square-foot Norwin community recreation center with indoor and outdoor pools, basketball courts, a weight room, fitness area and running track. But the project would have cost an estimated $18 million, and township voters in 2011 overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to borrow up to $18 million to finance the construction.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or email@example.com
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