Focus goes from park to community center in Collier Township
By Jeff Widmer
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
When Lisa Novak came to Collier, she knew what she was getting into.
It was laid out on the table, so to speak, during multiple interviews with Collier officials.
“The interview process was very open,” said Novak, the first director of parks and recreation in Collier. “I told them what I would do with their situation and they told me what was going on,” Novak, a native of Canonsburg, said last week.
“They told me what was needed. They were very open. I knew what was going on.”
Now, almost a year after she took the job, Novak has done something she thought at first was almost impossible.
Now she faces another challenge.
After playing a part in the opening of Collier Township Park at the former Charles E. Kelly Support Facility, Novak is helping to plan the new Collier Community Center, which is scheduled to open in April 2014.
The community center will feature a gym, banquet room, party room, walking track, locker rooms and a dance studio, all inside. The improvements and additions will be made to the existing recreation center.
It is not known how much it will cost for the use of the building.
The community center is estimated to cost a total of $4.5 million, said Collier Manager Sal Sirabella. The money will come from Collier's budget.
Before coming to Collier, Novak was the assistant manager at Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center. When she was hired in March, one of the first duties that landed on her desk was turning what was the former U.S. Army barracks into a township park.
“This certainly is not a ‘no-pressure' job. But there are no parameters. The commissioners said, ‘This is what we have, this is what you said you could do.' Now, I am being given the time to do it,” Novak said.
Novak is taking everything “day by day,” she said.
“I also was told to build a department. I was trying to plan things out that way, just break things down. Everything worked out,” Novak said.
Sirabella has been impressed with Novak's performance during the past year.
“She was chosen because of her expertise in managing a facility, and her extensive background in parks and recreation. Everyone here has been impressed,” he said.
Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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