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Residents air noise concerns about Sewickley church playground

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Thorn Street resident Melissa Farlow said “shrieking children” in a church playground in Sewickley drove her inside her home last week, and she said she's worried a proposal to relocate the playlot closer to her home will increase the noise.

“I love the peace in my garden. I love the peace in my yard. There are times you can't be outside,” Farlow told planning commission members last week at a public hearing for a land development application for The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, which is looking to turn the so-called “pink house” at 202 Beaver St. into a fellowship center for church-related programs and community group meeting space.

Planning commission members approved recommending the land development and unification plans to council, 4-1.

Stan Ference voted no. Shannon Ashmore left the hearing before the vote occurred.

Included in a list of conditions is a recommendation that church officials consider an alternate location for the playground.

Sewickley Council will decide May 20 whether to approve planning commission's recommendations, which includes a landscaping plan, buffer areas, a sewer and storm water plan and parking.

Church governing board member Tom Graham said the proposed playground will continue to serve children who attend preschool on site, and also will be for public use.

“We've been maintaining a playground on the church property for at least 40 years,” Graham said. “It's open to anyone in the community.”

Brian Morel said he and his wife and two children visit the playground “every day after work.”

The Beaver Street resident said most families who use it live within walking distance.

“Rarely does anyone make a lot of noise at night,” he said. “Having that there is a great thing. We've met a lot of people through that playground. It's no more noise than you'd hear (from) kids walking down the sidewalk.”

Thorn Street resident Donna Panazzi said most of the noise issues stem from use during preschool classes.

Graham said preschool classes occur from September through May for children from about age 3 to 5.

“The public that comes and uses the place, yes, they're much more respectful of the neighborhood,” said Panazzi, who lives near the church's current playground.

“I am driven inside my home in the afternoon because of the screeching.”

Farlow said she and her husband, Randy Olson, are “very impacted by the noise.”

Their home and a proposed location for the playground are separated by Duquesne Way, which allows Thorn Street residents access to garages.

“So that's why I fear when it's (proposed to be) 11 feet behind me instead of several hundred feet down the end of the block,” Farlow said.

“I don't think I could be in my yard.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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