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Baldwin man plans to fundraise for park improvements

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:36 p.m.
McAnulty Park, with a grassy area, pavilion and basketball courts, is “underutilized,” Baldwin Borough officials say. Lifelong resident Brian Urban, pictured here, said he plans to begin fundraising for a complete overhaul of the park, turning it into a “community fit” center. Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
McAnulty Park in Baldwin Borough.
McAnulty Park in Baldwin Borough.

Brian Urban spent his childhood summers playing games of “tennyball” on the McAnulty Park basketball court with friends.

The park once was a hangout for youngsters living along Meadowcrest Drive in Baldwin Borough, where children played a softer version of baseball — using a tennis ball — to protect the windows of nearby homes from shattering.

“In my memory, the sun was always shining. It was a great place to go,” said Urban, 27, who has lived in a home adjacent to the park his entire life.

Yet, much has changed over the years and the once happy-haven has deteriorated and now features rusted hoops and overgrown weeds.

There are a lot of problems at the park, including, “trash, graffiti, drug use, underage alcohol use, poor safety conditions and so on and so forth,” Urban said, as he described the 2.5-acre park off of McAnulty Road in the southern end of the borough. “The point being is that it's not attracting the positive attention that it should be.”

The addition of exercise stations and walking trails could help to reduce crime and improve community spirit, Urban said. He plans to begin fundraising in hopes of financing a $25,000 to $50,000 overhaul of the park, turning it into a “community fit” center.

“Really, I just want to increase our borough value,” said Urban, a health educator-medical manager for Cigna Behavioral Health. “There's a lot of things that we can think about.”

The pavilion, green space and basketball courts at McAnulty Park are “admittedly very under-utilized,” borough Manager John Barrett said.

Urban on Feb. 12 presented council with plans that would “hopefully make it more appealing,” Barrett said.

A recreational fitness park, with a 300-meter trail and 10 exercise stations, including chin-up, push-up and body-resistant posts, would be ideal, Urban said.

A volunteer at the Obediah Cole Foundation, Urban has assisted in raising as much as $60,000 annually for prostate cancer research, he said. His father, James, died of the disease.

The 2011 Jefferson Award winner for public service said he would like to partner with Pittsburgh businesses that focus on health and fitness as part of the effort.

“This is no cost at all to the borough,” Urban said. “The return on the investment is sixfold. It's huge.”

Borough solicitor Stanley Lederman is drafting a letter of agreement to allow Urban to move forward with his fundraising efforts. Urban, who said he plans to start fundraising in the next three weeks, is working with borough engineer Larry Souleret on plans for the park.

If fundraising efforts go as planned, Urban said he would hope to have the project started by August.

Construction likely would take about a year.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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