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Quaker Valley Recreation Association leaders seek donations

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Leaders of a Sewickley Valley youth sports association say rain gardens need to be added to a Bell Acres sports complex to address stormwater runoff issues.

Five rain gardens — complete with landscaped native trees and plants — are needed for the Legacy Fields at Bouchard Family Park, Quaker Valley Recreation Association President Scott Francis said.

Altogether, the rain gardens are expected to cost $250,000, said Francis, adding that the group plans to solicit donations from the public to help offset costs. The group hopes to have two of the gardens in place by spring.

“This is a win-win proposition for our young people — athletic fields for the sports that play such an important role in their lives and a site for environmental education and aesthetic beauty,” Francis said.

He called the additions an important step in the recreation association's efforts to offer a variety of youth sports, including baseball, softball and soccer. The complex also plays host to WPIAL sports.

The gardens would allow water runoff to be absorbed into the ground instead of possibly flowing into drains or causing erosion and flooding.

The association had more than 822 participants across four sports, according to group spokesman Mark Hudson. Those players are from more than 560 families.

Leaders say they plan to use the rain gardens as a science teaching tool.

The group has partnered with Fern Hollow Nature Center and the Little Sewickley Creek Watershed Association to help offer educational lessons, which allow children to learn about the environment, Francis said.

The park is named for Esmark CEO Jim Bouchard and his family. He and his wife, Carolyn, made a $1 million donation in 2008 toward the fields.

Francis said the rain gardens are an added cost to the overall total, which could stand between $3 million and $4 million.

Additional play areas are expected to be constructed over the next few years.

More than 300 families in the Sewickley Valley have donated to the fields, Hudson said.

Quaker Valley School District — which leases the property to the recreation association — has assisted with erosion and sediment work, and has provided upgrades to improve park accessibility for people with disabilities.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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