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Saltsburg seeks grant for new playground site

| Thursday, July 10, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Children in Saltsburg may soon have a new destination for play dates if the borough council succeeds in its quest for funding to help construct a new, safer playground in the town.

Council is applying for $250,000 for the project through the state Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. Program funding is to be used to develop, rehabilitate and improve public parks, recreation areas, greenways and trails and for river conservation.

Leann Chaney, grant writer for the borough, plans to submit the application to the state Department of Community and Economical Development before the July 21 deadline. Chaney estimated that grants would be awarded in the program at the beginning of the new year, following a review at the Nov. 20 CFA board meeting.

The new playground is proposed on the site of Saltsburg's old sewage treatment plant on Canal Street, effectively moving the playground from its current site on the same street at the West Penn Trail trailhead. Moving the playground will separate it from basketball courts, which will remain at the trailhead.

The old sewage treatment plant will be demolished with the planned construction of a new facility at the current site of the borough maintenance garage and water plant.

A parking lot being built for the new plant will provide the borough's required 15 percent local match for the grant.

“The parking lot is going to be the parking lot for the playground, too, so the money used to build the lot will be considered the matching grant,” said Kathy Muir, council vice president.

Chaney said council is considering a nature theme for the equipment since the playground will be located so close to the trail.

“The old (playground) has been vandalized, it's old, it's outdated,” said Muir.

“There's been a lot of talk throughout the past few years about a new playground,” said council President P.J. Hruska. “Now having kids myself, now I know why people were so big on it.”

He said it's the perfect time to move the play area with the planned parking lot being tied into the project.

“The timing worked out perfectly,” he said. “We've got a nice big parking lot coming, and we're going to use that as a matching grant for the playground.”

He noted that the public will be able to use the parking lot, which will come in handy for the trail and playground traffic.

Council discussed hiring a part-time summer employee to help maintain some of the unkempt properties in the borough.

According to Muir, there are several properties in town that are currently in foreclosure or whose deeds are held up in banks, leaving the borough without a contact to discuss issues suc as high-grass ordinance violations.

“That's a problem because we don't know who to send the stuff to because it's out there in limbo,” she said.

Hruska suggested that a part-time laborer be hired with the intent of recouping the costs of maintenance from the banks, but there is always the risk that the restitution would fall through.

“It would be nice to have someone to do those properties,” he noted, adding that most of the issues at these properties deal with high grass.

Resident Dan Rose suggested that council look into bringing in workers from the county probation office who need community service hours. Probation office laborers have been used at the community pool prior to the start of the season and in town for painting traffic lines, and Mayor Elizabeth “Cookie” Rocco noted they have always done good work.

Hruska agreed to call the probation office to inquire about bringing in workers to take care of the problem properties.

Council also heard concerns from Rose about police protocol for high-speed chases and spraying of weeds on the sidewalks and curbs around town.

Rocco noted that she and the police committee met with Police Chief Gary Walker to discuss issues with people running stop signs, parking and ordinance violations.

“It was a very positive meeting,” she stated, noting that another meeting is being planned to continue discussions. “I think we're going to make some positive changes.”

In other business, council:

• Approved a request from the Saltsburg Free Library to extend its contract with the borough by 25 years, allowing the library to remain in its current location at the Salt Center building through June 1, 2039;

• Received the reslts of a survey confirming existing boundaries between borough property and the Altman Mill property;

• Announced that Saltsburg will play host to the Borough Association picnic July 23.

Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or gdelfavero@tribweb.com.

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