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By A.J. Panian Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
The cracks in the asphalt surface of the basketball court at Frick Park in Mt. Pleasant have widened through the years, said James M. Wojnar, a borough councilman and chairman of the council's parks and recreation committee.
Soon the court will be resurfaced during a project to be financed by $19,000 recently acquired by Wojnar and other borough leaders through Community Development Block Grant funding provided by Westmoreland County's board of commissioners through an entitlement grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In addition, a $27,000 grant also secured by the borough from the same funding source will ensure the purchase of new playground equipment for the park located adjacent to the borough municipal building along Etze Avenue, Wojnar said.
The acquisition of the renovation money is the product of years' worth of effort by many, he said.
“Frick Park should be the showpiece of the town, as far as parks go,” Wojnar said. “It's our destination park, and the others are our neighborhood parks. You have softball leagues there and the YMCA holds its summer camp program there, so it's a place that people from other areas come to.”
A carousel and jungle gym deemed unsafe with age were removed from Frick Park in the fall.
A plan is in place to enhance such offerings there, as well as at Jack Bobbs Park along South Silver Street, John E. Satcho Park along South Geary Street, Medic 10 Park along Yoder Avenue and Willows Park near Washington Street, he said.
“We're working towards improvements ... I can't stress that enough,” Wojnar said.
Borough Council President Joe Bauer said the state funding represents a good start for the borough.
“The budget is tight, and we didn't raise taxes to get these things accomplished,” Bauer said.
Upgrading and maintaining the quality of the borough's parks far into the future remains a primary task, borough Manager Jeff Landy said.
“The borough has always tried to upgrade the lifestyle here for residents, and one of the most important parts of that are the parks, as we have many of them,” Landy said. “We have a concentrated plan.”
Officials seek complete ADA compliance
Borough officials also recently met with Adam Mattis, recreation and parks adviser for the southwest/northwest office of the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' bureau of recreation and conservation.
The purpose of the meeting was to determine the best plan to apply for funding through the agency to ensure all borough parks are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As a result of the meeting, the borough has begun working with licensed design consultants to devise a grant application and corresponding budget that will ensure its goal is to retrofit all five of its parks with features consistent with the act's pertinent laws, standards and guidelines.
“At Frick Park, what we're talking about is providing handicapped-accessible pathways to playground equipment,” Wojnar said. “Right now, the walking path connects to handicapped parking near the borough building. We'd be looking at (installing) a paved or concrete path directly to the park's play area.”
In addition, Wojnar said, the borough would also plan to install an upgraded, artificial or natural surface around the playground equipment there to better ensure user safety, he added.
“We have an idea of what we want to do, but we also want to consult some experts to make sure we're doing what's in the best interest of the borough,” Wojnar said.
Applications for the latest round of grant funding available via the department for park rehabilitation and development are due April 16.
“(The DCNR) just needs a plan, so we're in the steps now of doing what we need to do to make that happen,” Landy said.
The application will need to be submitted through the agency's Community Conservation Partnerships grant program and undergo a competitive review, department spokeswoman Christina Novak said.
“If selected, the program would aid the municipality on issues related to becoming more ADA accessible,” Novak said.
The borough is also planning to apply for additional funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development in June for additional park upgrades, Wojnar said.
“It's not something that's going to happen overnight. It's something that's going to happen over the next five to 10 years,” he said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or [email protected]