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Pa. park gets new lease on the future

June 23, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Children and families who frequent the Donald "Mike" Waters Memorial Playground will see major changes at the South Second Street park next year - $300,000 in renovations that will be aided by a $150,000 grant announced Thursday by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis.

"I understand what Mike Waters Park is all about because in Philadelphia, I had 157 of them to manage," said DiBerardinis, the former recreation commissioner for Philadelphia when Gov. Ed Rendell was mayor. "They build connections between youths and adults."

"Those kids do better," DiBerardinis said of children who spend recreation time with parents, grandparents or adult staff at a playground.

The state is providing half of the money for the first phase of improvements to the park, which will include repositioning basketball courts, construction of a pavilion, playground equipment and safety surfacing, lighting, fencing and other improvements. Borough Recreation Director Herb Dolaway said the work should be started in 2007 and be finished before the end of the year.

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Additional improvements in a second, and perhaps a third, phase could bring the price tag for park improvements to $600,000 or more, Dolaway said. Those plans call for a small water park, another pavilion and a soccer field where there now is a baseball field, he said.

Soccer has become increasingly popular among users of the park, and the field also could be used for another sport of increasing popularity, lacrosse, Dolaway said Thursday.

"Our master plan for parks and recreation shows Mike Waters Memorial Park as the most visited neighborhood park in the borough," Dolaway said in a statement released by the governor's office.

Borough officials present at Thursday's presentation did not know exactly when the park was built, but Mayor John Redding said it was there when he came to the area in the 1950s.

"DCNR has really done some tremendous things for us in the borough of Chambersburg," Dolaway said. He cited grants that helped in creating the borough's rail-trail and assisted in drafting its comprehensive plan for parks and recreation.

The park was renamed several years ago for the late Waters, a community leader and a founder of the Chambersburg Community Improvement Association.

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