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Valley News Dispatch

New Kensington hopes to replace parking lot with playground

Matthew Medsger
| Monday, June 19, 2017, 12:21 a.m.
New Kensington is trying to get a $250,000 grant to improve basketball courts and playgrounds in the city.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
New Kensington is trying to get a $250,000 grant to improve basketball courts and playgrounds in the city.

New Kensington officials would like to turn a city parking lot into a playground and basketball court — if it can net the grant money to do it.

The parking lot is next to Peoples Library on Barnes Street. Mayor Tom Guzzo said it would be converted into the play area usable by patrons at the library and the nearby YMCA along Constitution Boulevard.

The grant would come from the state's Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program.

That program, established in 2012 as part of the Marcellus Legacy Fund, pays for municipalities and other groups to improve public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails and river conservation.

New Kensington will apply for the maximum grant allowable under the program, $250,000, but success depends on whether the city will be able to use its real estate as capital for the grant requirement of 15 percent matching funds.

Guzzo said the city would like to use the parking lot it plans to convert as collateral to represent the council's portion of matching funds.

“We hope to take that lot and make it into something that would be usable by families. It would just be something additional for the community and for the kids,” Guzzo said.

Municipalities the size of New Kensington often struggle to raise the capital required to match funds for such a grant, Guzzo said, but using the city's property could be a solution in this case.

One way or the other, Guzzo said the opportunity to get the grant was just too good to pass up.

“Every year, when grants come up that are relevant, we are obviously going to try for them. In this case, we have a parking lot adjacent to the library that we could use as a match, but that's really the problem for small municipalities and these grant programs, coming up with the cash,” he said.

The city used a the same grant program in 2016 to help cover the cost of the hockey deck at Memorial Park, according to Guzzo.

Exactly when the grant may be approved is up to program's governing body, city Clerk Dennis Scarpiniti said, but the application deadline has passed and the process shouldn't take more than a couple of months.

“It's in the hands of the commonwealth,” he said.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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