Cranberry officials expected to OK municipal building expansion
By Rick Wills
Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Housing a library, township offices, the police department and 150 programs offered by Cranberry's recreation department, including a kinder gym, basketball and dance classes, the township's municipal center is getting a real workout.
So much so that Cranberry supervisors are expected to approve a major renovation by the end of the year.
The options range from an overhaul that would cost from $2.5 million to $4.7 million, to $35 million for a new building.
“We are just always running out of space. It's a heavily used building,” said Duane McKee, Cranberry's assistant manager.
Proposed renovations include adding to Cranberry's public library; renovating 6,000 square feet of unused space; repairing the building's roof; and replacing the building's heating and air conditioning system.
“It's not in bad shape. We have some efficiency issues. The heating and air conditioning is now 22 years old, and the building's roof is deteriorating,” McKee said.
“It is a busy building. Sometimes it's hard to park here,” said Michelle Semrau of Cranberry as she left the library with her son.
Semrau's teenage boys play basketball in the municipal center.
“We come here all the time. A lot of people do. Adding space to the building would be helpful,” she said.
About 25,000 people visit the building each month.
“That can be for anything from going to the library to getting a building permit,” McKee said.
Rooms are in heavy demand largely because of the township's extensive recreation programs, he said.
Bruce Mazzoni, chairman of Cranberry's supervisors, said he and his colleagues are most likely to opt for the less-expensive plan.
Officials said they don't anticipate a tax increase to do the building project and won't need to borrow money. The township has 28,000 residents.
“The additions have been budgeted, and we can always do more later,” Mazzoni said.
Cranberry bought the building, housed in a former cold-rolled steel foundry, in 1988 and renovated it into a municipal building that also houses district offices for state legislators.
It is the site for hundreds of activities and programs sponsored by the township's Department of Parks and Recreation.
Steve Smith of Mars, who used to live in Cranberry and still works there, played basketball in the municipal building. So did his sons.
“This building really is a nice resource,” Smith said while visiting the library.
Mark Malick, a longtime Cranberry resident who now lives in Sewickley, says he admires the way the building was converted.
“I am a big fan of reusing existing space, which is what was done here. I imagine that when they redo the heating and air conditioning, the building will be more green,” he said.
Peter Geis, Cranberry's director of parks and recreation, says the expansion will allow the department to expand the preschool it runs.
“We will experience the largest impact from the renovation. Right now, we have 150 programs and run most of them out of the community center,” Geis said.
In addition to the preschool, the department runs an after-school program and this school year has added a before-school program.
Among its other programs are early education, kinder gym, fitness, basketball, teen dances, a baby-sitting class and dance classes.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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