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Wilmerding seeks park improvement funds

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

Wilmerding officials are seeking recreation funds to improve Airbrake Park's playground area and walking trail.

Council unanimously authorized borough engineer Dave Gilliland to apply for a grant from the Marcellus Legacy Fund through the Commonwealth Financing Authority at Tuesday night's meeting.

Gilliland said he recently learned of the organization, and needs to perform more research before submitting an application by the July 31 deadline.

“It funds a lot of things,” Gilliland said.

The CFA was established as an independent agency of the commonwealth to administer Pennsylvania's economic stimulus packages. The Legacy Fund allocates money for multiple projects including greenways, trails and recreation programs.

Borough officials want to replace the rubber safety surface by the swings and extend the park's walking trail. The trail currently extends from the 800 block of Airbrake Avenue to the middle of the 600 block of the avenue, before circling back around.

“I have to look up the prices for that,” Gilliland said. “We bid it about three years ago and (the borough) didn't want to pay for it. They had a 50 percent grant and they didn't want to come up with the other 50 percent. This is an 80 percent grant and a 20 percent match.”

He said rough approximations indicate the project could cost $60,000, with the borough paying $12,000.

Council vice president and recreation chairperson Sandy Smith said the park needs to be improved.

“The surface is some type of rubber matting, and it's bad,” Smith said. “Dave said that years ago when they went to resurface that it was $35,000. It's a big ticket item for us ... Every community is instituting these walking trails. Everybody's producing a healthy environment. I'd use it. This is one of the years we can do a matching grant.”

Smith said the borough did not have the money yeas ago when it was awarded the 50 percent matching grant, but it can afford spending 20 percent.

The borough already purchased a swing to replace a dilapidated one.

More information about the CFA is available online at www.newpa.com.

Council president Stephen Shurgot said he attempted to meet with Magisterial District Judge Robert L. Barner to discuss code enforcement issues and was told to meet instead with the code enforcement officer.

Residents have complained at previous meetings about property owners being cited for ordinance violations, and the magistrate either dismissing the cases or letting the people off lightly.

“I don't know what else we can do. We got to get this guy in our corner,” Shurgot said.

Residents at Tuesday's meeting implored council to look into cleaning up Airbrake Avenue, and thanked council for its efforts during Community Days and other events.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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