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Park upgrade requests in Unity sit in limbo

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Requests for park improvements in Unity are up in the air with the Latrobe-Unity Parks and Recreation Commission.

Commission members discussed requests fielded from the villages of Whitney and Pleasant Unity, but a 10-year intermunicipal agreement between the city of Latrobe and Unity could expire at the end of the year.

During a meeting on Thursday, executive director Jeanne Ashley brought a letter from Whitney-Hostetter Volunteer Fire Department to the attention of board members.

“They would like us to help them develop their playground,” she said.

The existing ball field is privately owned.

Ashley said when the commission was first formed, evaluations were completed of many parks within the township, but some that were privately owned were not interested in long-term leases, which limits funding sources.

“Our hands were tied,” she said.

The commission improved a park in Hostetter, installing a basketball court and other playground equipment, Ashley said.

Board members requested that Ashley contact the fire department and alert them of the situation.

“It's the last six months of the intergovernmental agreement,” said board member Dan Hennessy. “If something happens to change that, then obviously it becomes the next phase.”

Other requests have been fielded by residents in the East High Acres housing development, Hennessy said.

Ashley said she has fielded repeated calls from a resident of Pleasant Unity who has requested restroom facilities at the playground there, but portable facilities are cost-prohibitive and temporary.

“We do have several little neighborhood parks that do not have them,” she said.

Residents of Unity account for 51.5 percent of program registrants with the commission, according to its 2013 annual report, while 27.5 percent live in Latrobe and 21 percent live outside the Greater Latrobe School District.

Board members plan to discuss winter programs and the possibility of rising fees because of the expiring agreement at the July meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. July 17 at Latrobe city hall.

The program schedule, which includes those that stretch into 2015, must be approved and printed at the end of July.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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