The Centre County Commissioners agreed to support four separate projects in local parks and green spaces as the project coordinators asked for grant funding at the board meeting last week.
Spring Creek Park in College Township and East Fairmount Park in State College are looking for a facelift, as Rothrock State Forest is looking to improve its trail system and Clearwater Conservancy seeks to improve a green space along Slab Cabin Run, all through the support of grants.
SPRING CREEK PARK
Spring Creek Park is one the most loved regional parks in the area. Built in the 1970s with Spring Creek flowing through it, “it is so well loved that it is a bit tired in places” despite the great efforts of Centre County Parks and Recreation Authority, said Derek Kalp from the College Township Parks and Recreation Committee.
So the township is hoping to develop a master plan that would give the well-used park a new look, with new equipment and more access to all.
“We have a few goals. One is to improve the recreation and fitness facilities in the park. 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,” said Kalp.
Centre County is looking at a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnership Program grant to develop the master plan for the park and then leverage more grant funding to put the plan in action.
EAST FAIRMOUNT PARK
State College Borough’s East Fairmount Park is also in need of an upgrade and the county is looking at the same type of grant from DCNR to make that happen. The park is currently an open space with a basketball court without hoops and a baseball backstop with no diamond, as well as some old playground equipment.
Maureen Safco from the State College Planning Department said the park is well used, but is in need of improvements. After receiving feedback from the community about the park she said the goals for the upgrades include reducing safety hazards, improving accessibility, accommodating preferred activities, improving natural diversity for pollinators, organizing pedestrian circulation and creating a beautiful and dignified neighborhood space.
Safco said the community wanted to keep the open grassy area for the pick-up games that occur often at the park. She said they hope to update the playground equipment and add a walking path around the open space with benches and a shelter area.
State College is hoping for an estimated $114,000 from DCNR for the project with a $114,000 match from the borough.
ROTHROCK STATE FOREST
In July, the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry, along with the Friends of Rothrock State Forest, introduced a five- to 10-year plan to improve the heavily used trails in the park. Now the two groups are seeking county support as they apply for a grant to fund the first phase of the project. That will focus on the trail system of the Musser Gap area, adding about 7.5 miles of trails to the area while decommissioning 4.8 miles of trail. Eventually, the plan looks to add a total of 60 miles of trail to the forest.
The commissioners agreed to offer their support for a similar DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Program Grant for this project.
The proposed new trail construction will benefit the heaviest amount of recreation in Rothrock State Forest that includes hiking, mountain biking, gravel bike riding, trail running and equestrian use. This phase of trail improvements will also provide interconnections to other trails in the Rothrock system and to other recreation areas such as Whipple Dam in Huntingdon County.
The commissioners also agreed to support a Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program grant funding request for ClearWater Conservancy.
“This would support the acquisition of a 40.1-acre easement for the protection of natural features along Slab Cabin Run’s sub-watershed of Spring Creek. The area is located in a major recharge area of State College Borough Water Authority’s well system and will protect the highest value habitat on the Hess Farm in Harris Township,” said Sue Hannigan, chair of the county policy and planning committee.
Hannigan said that ClearWater asked for a similar letter of support last year.
“This focuses primarily on the riparian buffers. The difference between the two is that last year’s was for a larger easement acreage amount. This year it is focused on the 40.1 acres of natural riparian buffer on the tributary to Spring Creek,” said Hannigan.