Grant to help fund parks projects across county
December 11, 2013 10:50 AM
by SAM KUSIC

Three Indiana County municipalities have been awarded state grants totaling $168,000 for a variety of park projects.

Of the total, $85,000 is being given to White Township, which intends to undertake the second phase of work on Kennedy-King Park along Josephine Avenue.

A total of $43,000 is going to Homer City Borough, which is planning to improve a boat launch and park along Two Lick Creek. The rest, $40,000, was awarded to Cherry Tree Borough, which is proposing to convert a ballfield off Route 219 into a park.

The grants were awarded though the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships program. The three municipalities were among 201 Pennsylvania organizations sharing in this year’s round of funding under the program.

All told, the department handed out more than $38 million to projects that help the state attain the objectives contained in its Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

In White Township, the grant will allow the township to finish converting King-Kennedy Park’s old tennis courts to new uses. Under the first phase, the township made the courts into two basketball courts and added new playground equipment, said township manager Milt Lady.

He said that in the second phase, the plan is to remove some old playground equipment at the park’s upper end and build a pavilion there. And, he said, the intention is to put four or five pickleball courts on the old tennis courts. Pickleball is a game played with paddles and borrows elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong.

Additionally, the township plans to renovate a baseball field at the park, reorienting it and installing a new backstop, Lady said.

Lady said work likely will begin in the spring. The township will have to provide $85,000 in cash and in-kind services to match the grant. He said this was the third time the township has applied for project funding through the grant program.

In Cherry Tree, council President Lisa Harbaugh said the borough intends to use the money to repurpose a ballfield that has sat unused over the past several years. She said plans call for new playground equipment and a walking trail at the field.

The borough is going to have to provide a $20,000 match to the grant, which it will cover using royalties earned from an agreement with a local coal mine.

“We just felt like that was a good place to use the money,” she said. “We’re going to get a lot more park than if we had tried to do something ourselves,” she said.

She said work may begin in the spring, and the borough will be looking for volunteer help.

In Homer City, the borough is planning to use the money for improvements to the Two Lick Creek boat launch near the former Syntron plant. Plans include a new picnic pavilion, parking improvements and community gardens.

The Evergreen Conservancy applied for the grant on the borough’s behalf.

Borough manager Rob Nymick said the grant should cover most of the cost of what it hopes to accomplish there.

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