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Expanded upgrades for Doerr Park considered

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Jefferson Township officials hope postponing a handicapped accessibility project at Laura J. Doerr Memorial Park will allow them to expand proposed improvements.

The project includes handicapped parking and accessibility to the new gazebo, the Major League Field bleachers and ball fields 6 and 7, known as Minor League Field and Farm Field.

The township applied for a $100,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to fund the project. It will be at least October before the township finds out whether it will receive the funds.

Gary Pinkerton, chairman of the Butler County Parks and Recreation Commission, advised the township to hold off on the project until DCNR grants are awarded. That way, it can use about $80,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money as matching funds.

“When you have the opportunity to take money that you have and leverage it against another grant, it's wise for the local municipality to do that,” Pinkerton said. “We try to encourage that.”

Township Supervisor Rodger Davis said the additional funds will certainly help the township enhance recreational opportunities for residents.

“It will allow us to do a few more things,” he said.

The DCNR funding would allow the township to check off several items in its master plan for Laura Doerr Park, including eight code-conforming bleachers to replace the ones that are in the worst condition, plus adding a new playground and fitness trail.

Laura Doerr Park is about a half-mile north of the Route 356 and Marwood Road intersection. It features the township's swimming pool, numerous baseball fields and several pavilions.

Leo Rosenbauer, chairman of the township's recreation committee, said hundreds of people use the park each summer.

“Not only do we want to make sure we follow the rules and regulations for access at public facilities, but we just want to make the park more usable to the people,” he said.

“Tournaments are held there, amateur radio events; the parking lot is always filled.”

Craig Russo, project engineer with Frank B. Taylor Engineering of New Castle, whom the borough hired to do a preliminary design, said new handicapped ramps would connect to existing ramps.

“What they have been trying to do in the park is get handicapped ramps leading to places where spectators want to get to,” he said.

“All we did was gather some field information, topographic information, and I roughed in some areas we could designate as handicapped parking.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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