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Firm presents designs for Crafton's recreation upgrades

- Crafton residents Patrick Wilson, 8, takes to the air as Evelyn Hoff, 7, makes her way back to out during a cannonball contest at the Crafton Community Pool on June 22, 2007. File photo
Crafton residents Patrick Wilson, 8, takes to the air as Evelyn Hoff, 7, makes her way back to out during a cannonball contest at the Crafton Community Pool on June 22, 2007.  File photo
- Head Lifeguard Zach Caine, 17, of Crafton, is the first to take the plunge as fellow lifeguard Audra Ogden, 18, of Crafton, looks on just after the noon opening at the Crafton Pool in Crafton on Saturday, May 23 2009. The pool opens up for the season on Memorial Day weekend each year. photo Brady Wolfe
Head Lifeguard Zach Caine, 17, of Crafton, is the first to take the plunge as fellow lifeguard Audra Ogden, 18, of Crafton, looks on just after the noon opening at the Crafton Pool in Crafton on Saturday, May 23 2009. The pool opens up for the season on Memorial Day weekend each year. photo Brady Wolfe

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Having worked at Crafton's pool for 18 years, including a stint as manager, Sharon Gaitens still feels a strong bond with the borough's summertime focal point.

So, count her as one of the residents most eager to see the facility and the rest of Crafton's parks finally getting a facelift.

“I love Crafton and love Crafton pool,” she said. “I'm certainly excited to see money is being reinvested in the facility.”

While the concepts and potential redesign plans for the borough's long-awaited recreational development plan have been available on Crafton's website for some time, last Thursday was a chance for residents to meet with urban designers and offer their own suggestions in an open house and workshop format.

The comprehensive drawings and recommendations, partially funded by a $35,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, were presented by Pittsburgh-based firm Environmental Planning and Design — though Aquatic Facility Design worked on the pool plans.

The designs represent a culmination of the companies' efforts, as well as input from the council-appointed public study committee and multiple public surveys.

“We want everyone to basically understand what has been done with the information they gave us,” said council member Susan O'Connell, chair of the public study committee. “We've distilled it to try to develop a plan that meets the needs of the community. We want to be as inclusive as possible.”

The concepts from EPD include short-and long-term recommendations for each park, with the former providing mostly aesthetic and safety-related changes and the latter featuring total redesigns. Each concept also features ways to make the areas ADA accessible.

Among the many suggestions for Crafton Park — which hasn't seen a major update in more than three decades — are updates to playground components, baseball and softball fields, relocating the amphitheater and reconfiguring parking lots.

“We actually went through four or five concepts on Crafton Park,” EPD's Carolyn Yagle said, “really trying to explore what would work best from an access standpoint, from a maintenance standpoint, and still keep some of the central features.”

Retaining those touches that make the parks feel like home, such as Crafton Park's sled riding hill, was high on the residents' concerns at the open house.

With the public's collaboration, EPD will create a formalized development plan in the near future, and the committee will recommend it to council.

“I hope the committee is excited to hear the input of the community members, the perspective of the parents, the children,” Gaitens said.

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dstefano@tribweb.com or 412-388-5816.

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