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Unity willing to talk parks with Latrobe rec agency

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As differences mount between Unity officials and the regional recreation commission the community shares with Latrobe, a Unity official said last week that he is willing to meet with the organization to discuss the issues.

The tension between the township supervisors and the recreation commission was apparent again recently when Michael O'Barto, chairman of the Unity board of supervisors, refused to give the Latrobe-Unity Parks & Recreation Commission written confirmation that Unity does not want a $42,000 grant for improvements to Central Park in the village of Marguerite.

Jeanne Ashley, executive director of the parks and recreation commission, told commission members on March 21 that she repeatedly had asked O'Barto for written confirmation that the township was turning down a $42,000 state grant to install a tot lot in a Marguerite play area.

When contacted after the meeting, O'Barto said that was “old news” and he did not want to discuss the matter in the newspaper.

O'Barto said he would be willing to meet with recreation commission members and the staff to discuss recreation matters, but he added, “We just don't trust anyone.”

“We just feel bruised and battered,” he said, adding that there have been “miscommunications” with the recreation commission on a number of matters.

The supervisors last year notified the commission that they did not intend to renew Unity's participation in the regional recreational commission with Latrobe when its agreement expires at the end of 2014. The separation came after years of disagreement over recreation commission operations.

In a recent dispute, Ashley said there apparently was miscommunication between the supervisors and members of the Central-Unity Township Community Association, which oversees development in the park. Some association members wanted a tot lot, while others wanted a walking track in the park.

The recreation commission decided to use the $42,000 matching grant toward improvements in Cardinal Park in Latrobe. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources agreed to redirect the grant to the Latrobe park, Ashley said. The grant required a $6,000 match.

“Right now, they're (township supervisors) not in the mood to talk to anyone,” said Joseph Mozina, a Unity Township representative.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or