Buffalo Township to consider final plans for $1M Audubon nature center, park
Buffalo Township Supervisors are scheduled to vote Wednesday on the final site plan for a $1 million nature center and park along the Butler-Freeport Community Trail.
The nature center site is owned by the township and operated by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. The proposed nature center and park have been in the works for more than eight years. The 2,700-square-foot nature center would be on a six-acre site along Monroe Road at one of the trail’s access points.
“This is a major blessing for the community for sure,” Supervisor Ron Zampogna Jr. said. “We don’t have a place for the community to congregate, and (the proposed nature center and park) happens to be at a trailhead, which is another advantage. We’re excited about this project getting started.”
A single-story building remains on the site of what was the former Oregon Club camp. The local Audubon Society plans to demolish part of that building, replace the roof and raise the floor about three feet, according to Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
The Buffalo Creek Nature Center would feature a large classroom, event space, a pavilion and a children’s nature play area, along with additional parking, restrooms and a store, according to Brian Shema, operations manager for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
“This site is going to be a big contribution to the growing communities in the southeastern part of the county,” said Gary Pinkerton, director of parks and recreation for Butler County.
The local Audubon Society wants to have the center open by late 2020 and, pending township approval, could select a contractor as early as January, Shema said.
Donations for the park have included $200,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, $225,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, $250,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, an anonymous donation of $250,000 and $25,000 from the Grable Foundation.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .