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Forward Township prepares for Community Days

| Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, 1:21 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Discussing plans for Forward Township's upcoming community day and future improvements to Gallatin Sunnyside Park are township supervisor Dave Magiske (left), resident Doug Gyer, police Chief Mark Holtzman, resident Keith Balint and Jefferson Hills Area EMS Chief Doug Pascoe.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Celina Esposito of Waltersburg gets a boost onto a Gallatin- Sunnyside Park swing in Forward Township on Friday. The park is salted to undergo a series of improvements, including an updated playground, in the coming year.

Forward Township is preparing for Community Days ... and an overhaul of Gallatin-Sunnyside Park where the annual two-day gathering will be held next weekend.

At least eight food booths — and a beer booth — will be available on Aug. 16 and 17 at Gallatin-Sunnyside Park, along the Monongahela River not far from the Route 136 bridge into Monongahela.

“There's a plug in every pole, and each has a separate circuit,” township Supervisor Dave Magiske said of electricity available at two pavilions.

Another enclosed pavilion and other work is on tap for expected completion in time for the 2015 Community Days.

“It will be enclosed and they can make hot dogs, hamburgers and milkshakes,” Magiske said. “There will be a walking trail around the perimeter that will be asphalted. Unlike other walking trails, it will be lighted.”

The township has a $200,000 Community Infrastructure and Tourism Grant from Allegheny County and seeks other funding for that work.

“That park is a super park,” said Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey, D-West Mifflin. “It adds to the quality of life along the river.”

Meanwhile, the township gets ready for next weekend.

“Last year we had 70 volunteers at a banquet that followed Community Days,” Magiske said. “(This year) we have a lot more people volunteering.”

Planners held their last meeting on Thursday.

“Now we'll have to run the electrical outlets to where they have to be for the vendors,” Magiske said. “And cut the grass one more time.”

Donations pay for much of what's offered, from the events for kids to the golf carts available for handicapped visitors to the 10 portable toilets.

“Everything we have for kids is free,” Magiske said. Included is a petting zoo and an inflatable mountain slide.

Games are on tap along with a car cruise, hayrides, a Ripepi Winery display and free blood pressure screenings by Jefferson Hills Area Ambulance Association.

There is no charge for parking for a celebration that includes disc jockeys beginning at 1 p.m., then live bands from 3:30-10 on both days.

Scheduled on Aug. 16 are Honky Tonk Sweethearts at 3:30, Prairie Fire at 5:30 and Dallas Marks at 7:30, then on Aug. 17 Country Gems at 3:30, a band to be announced at 5:30 and Todd Jones at 7:30.

Most parking is along the Mon in a 900-foot area adjacent to a boat launching ramp.

“I believe all communities along the rivers should have some kind of access, a boat deck or some other way to enjoy the riverfront,” Macey said.

A flock of geese could be seen flying along the Washington County shore of the river.

“They're normally over there,” Forward police Chief Mark Holtzman said, referring to efforts to keep the waterfowl out of the park.

Magiske said Gallatin-Sunnyside once was a soccer field where national champions played, but for much of the time since the township bought it in the 1970s “it lay kind of fallow, because the ducks were a problem.”

Now it has events all summer, including a birthday party and a gathering of amateur radio buffs this weekend.

The playground will be expanded and new equipment installed there as part of the overhaul.

“We want this to be a place where couples can bring their kids for lunch,” Magiske said. “This slide is outdated and should be replaced. Those swings will have to be replaced as well.”

More details on Community Days can be found at the forwardtownship.com website.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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