Starting next year, visitors to a number of Ross Township parks will be able to get free sunscreen from automatic dispensers obtained through a partnership with the nonprofit group Sun Smart Pittsburgh.
Commissioners Sept. 16 unanimously approved a measure to purchase the dispensers, which have been set up in about 30 locations in Allegheny County, including parks, ball fields, splash parks and dek hockey rinks, according to Dr. Christie Regula, a Mt. Lebanon dermatologist who created the nonprofit organization with her partner three years ago.
The units, which cost about $150 to install and fill, dispense 1 ounce of SPF 30 Coppertone brand sunscreen, which is enough for someone to cover their arms and face, Regula told the board at its Sept. 3 meeting.
A filled dispenser has 1,000 pre-measured doses of sunscreen, which typically is enough to last an entire summer, Regola said.
Refills cost between $40 and $50.
Regula said the tamper-proof dispensers require little maintenance beyond cleaning, monitoring them for refills and removing the battery and sunscreen before winter.
Township officials have not yet decided which parks will get the dispensers, but they are considering testing them out in the Municipal Center, Denny, Herge, Evergreen and possibly Bartlett and Scharmyn parks.
Board President Steve Korbell said there may be sponsorship opportunities available to help cover the cost of the dispenser program.
“I spoke to a group of business owners interested in putting their logos on the devices,” Korbell said.
Regula noted that since the labeling and signs for the devices are custom-made, other municipalities have helped pay for the dispensers by recognizing donors.
Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer said he supports making it easier for park visitors to protect themselves from the damaging effects of the sun.
“I know my family will probably use them,” he said. “We normally have sunscreen, but sometimes you forget. Skin cancer is a serious concern.”