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Centre County Parks Projects Land More Than $550,000 in State Grants

by on November 15, 2019 5:00 AM

Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Thursday announced five park and recreation projects in Centre County have received a combined $553,300 in grants.

The Recreation and Conservation grants for the local projects are among 169 grants totaling $24.5 million awarded statewide.

Centre County projects receiving grants include:

- $250,000 for Wildlife for Everyone Foundation's Wildlife Center at the Gov. Tom Ridge Wetlands Preserve in Huston Township. Work on the project got underway this summer with stream restoration on Bald Eagle Creek, the first step in the creation of the center. The grant will support a 1-mile ADA accessible trail, comfort station, pavilion, pedestrian walkway, stormwater management measures, parking area, installation of interpretive signage and utilities, landscaping and other site improvements.

The Wildlife Center received a $250,000 Department of Community and Economic Development grant in 2018.

- $132,300 for development of Centre Region Parks and Recreation's Whitehall Road Regional Park. Construction on the 55-acre first phase of the long-planned park in Ferguson Township is expected to begin in 2020 and the grant will be used for lighting and utilities, ADA access, landscaping and related site improvements. The overall first phase of the park will include four multipurpose fields, two open space areas, walking trails, an all-season pavilion with attached concession stands and restrooms, parking lots, storage building and an all-ability, universally-accessible playground.

The park recently received a $100,000 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, also for LED sports field lighting for two synthetic turf fields. Several other state and private grants have been awarded to the project, including $300,000 in 2018 from DCNR for the accessible playground. The current overall budget for the park is $4.8 million, based on available funding from a CRPR regional parks loan, but several features, such as the field lighting and synthetic turf, among others, require additional fundraising to be included.

- $101,000 for rehabilitation and development of State College Borough's East Fairmount Park. The grant will be used for a pavilion, pedestrian walkway, parking area, stormwater management measures, playground equipment with safety surfacing, ADA access and landscaping.

The park hasn't received much in the way of upgrades over the decades, and in 2018 the borough hired an architect, who worked with Centre Region Parks and Rec staff and Highlands neighborhood residents to develop a master plan. It will be centered on the large lawn with flexible uses and be designed to accommodate preferred activities while creating a beautiful neighborhood space that maintains a diversity of trees and plantings.

- $45,000 for ClearWater Conservancy's Centred Outdoors program. Founded in 2017, Centred Outdoors offers guided adventures at a wide variety of outdoor destinations throughout Centre County, with the goal of engaging people with conservation of natural resources and connecting residents with the natural environment. Held in the summer months during its first two years, Centred Outdoors expanded in 2019 to offer several spring and fall programs as well.

- $25,000 for Spring Creek Park in College Township. The grant funding will be used to create a master site development plan for the 36-acre park. 

Created in the 1970s and with Spring Creek flowing through it, the park is one of the area's most well-loved, so much so that, despite regular maintenance and upkeep, "it is a bit tired in places,” Derek Kalp of the College Township Parks and Recreation Committee said in April. The township is ultimately looking to update equipment, undertake conservation measures and ensure the park is accessible to all.

“We have a few goals. One is to improve the recreation and fitness facilities in the park," Kalp said. "The second would be to update play areas. Third would be to focus on the ecological health of the creek, looking at streamside protection and restoration. There are also some nice opportunities to further improve accessibility for folks with disabilities.”

The DCNR grant money for the local projects comes from the Key-Community Trust and Environmental Stewardship Fund

“These recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors is vital to our overall quality of life,” state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said in a news release. “I fully support these efforts to keep our parks and trails safe and accessible for all to enjoy.”



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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