New Castle News

Local News

April 11, 2014

County seeks grant to plan for park upgrades

NEW CASTLE — A plan for upgrading six parks in Lawrence County hinges on a state grant.

The commissioners Tuesday approved an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for matching greenways funds to create master plans for the parks, a venture estimated to cost $239,600.

The parks targeted for improvement plans are Stiefel and Ewing in Ellwood City, Scotland Meadows in Union Township, and Cascade, Gaston and Deshon in New Castle.

The projects are to be carried out as part a greenways and trails plan the county adopted in November 2007.

County planning director Amy McKinney told the commissioners that since the plan’s implementation, 90 percent of the projects identified have been completed, and the county hopes to complete the rest by the end of this year.

Lawrence County’s share of the grant would be $119,800. The county already has a commitment of $89,800.

The three partnering municipalities have committed funds for the match: $30,000 from Ellwood City, $22,500 from Union Township and $25,500 from the city. The county planning department is committing $11,800 of in-kind services via personnel.

The commissioners have said they will contribute $30,000 from the county’s Marcellus Shale funds or other sources as part of the match.

“These are tremendous projects and are an excellent example of intergovernmental cooperation,” Commissioner Dan Vogler commented.

“I’m really impressed with these,” Commissioner Steve Craig said. “This speaks a lot about the three communities’ commitment to maintaining their parks.”

“The master site plans entail public outreach to see what the park needs,” said Doniele Russell, shared greenways and environmental planner for the county, who is overseeing the plan. Specific projects for each park have not yet been identified, she said.

“What goes into them is what’s suggested by the public.”

Once the grant is awarded, there will be a kickoff and steering committee meetings. All meetings will be public and welcome public input.

“Everything will be online here at the county,” Russell added.

Ellwood City manager Robert Villella has ideas he would like to see in the borough’s master plans.

The 69 1/2-acre Stiefel Park is mostly undeveloped, Villella said.

He would like the see the ballfields and dek hockey rink improved and new restrooms built. He also envisions trials for all-terrain vehicles so they do not damage the park fields, and for hiking and mountain bike racing.

For the 25-acre Ewing Park, Villella would like to see a nature/conference center.

The borough has a nature trail that leads to the Connoquenessing Creek and he’d like to see more canoeing, possible boat docks and places for people to park their kayaks so they can access nearby restaurants and businesses.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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