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Funding limited for three proposed neighborhood parks in Pa.

June 13, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Plans for three new neighborhood parks in Chambersburg have advanced to the "pre-final design" phase, but funding to develop one is limited and essentially is nonexistent for the other two.

The Recreation Department held a meeting Tuesday for additional public input on plans for the parks - 4.6 acres at the Nicholson Square development; 8.6 acres at Mill Creek Acres; and 6 acres in the Gabler Tract. About two dozen people, including four members of the Borough Council, attended the meeting.

Recreation Department Superintendent Herb Dolaway said the borough has about $300,000 to develop the Mill Creek Acres site, but no funding for "anything but cutting grass" at the other two. A borough ordinance requires developers to provide land for recreation or pay a fee for recreational development.

The parks would have similar amenities, said Ann Yost of YSM Architects, including picnic pavilions, trails and multipurpose fields. The unnamed park at Nicholson Square would have two half-court basketball courts and a playground with areas for children of different ages.

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The Gabler Tract site is geared to "empty-nesters" in that area, with boccie courts and a trail with fitness stations, Yost said. Bisected by a large drainage ditch, the Mill Creek Acres park would have pedestrian bridges, a full-size basketball court and meadow area among its features.

Although the parks have not been named, Phyllis Cauffman, who lives in the Maple Run development in the Gabler Tract, recommended it be named in memory of Mayor John Redding, who died last month. Cauffman also said restrooms would be a good addition, along with benches along the walking trail.

"The people in our neighborhood are mostly elderly ... Some use canes. Some have walkers," she said.

Stormwater ponds at a pedestrian entrance at the Mill Creek site should be fenced off to protect children, resident Tom Bigler said.

Yost said options such as restrooms are expensive and are up to the council to consider. No cost estimates have been produced for the parks, she said.

The park master plans can be useful in applying for state matching grants, Yost said. Dolaway said the borough has a number of other major recreation projects looming, including renovating the pool at Municipal Park for $3 million or more; refurbishing the park's tennis courts; and a joint venture with the Chambersburg Area School District to do upgrades at Henninger Field.

"There has been talk about a bond issue" to fund recreation improvements, Councilman Allen Coffman said. He added that the borough only holds the deed on the Mill Creek site at this point.

"For once, I would like to see everything done at once and done right," Councilwoman Sharon Bigler said.

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