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Valley News Dispatch

Leechburg School District puts athletic complex on hold as it hashes out issues with W. Leechburg

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, 5:15 p.m.
Leechburg Area School District wants to convert the site of the West Leechburg baseball field into a spring sports complex that will include baseball, softball and track events.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Leechburg Area School District wants to convert the site of the West Leechburg baseball field into a spring sports complex that will include baseball, softball and track events.
Leechburg Area School District wants to convert the site of the West Leechburg baseball field into a spring sports complex that will include baseball, softball and track events.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Leechburg Area School District wants to convert the site of the West Leechburg baseball field into a spring sports complex that will include baseball, softball and track events.

West Leechburg officials say they are not opposed to the Leechburg Area School District developing an athletic complex in the borough, but they do have concerns about how it’s developed.

“We told them we are excited about it, but we want it to be done the right way,” Councilwoman Marcia Cole said Wednesday.

The school district is planning to build a complex to be the home of the Leechburg Area baseball, softball, soccer and track teams.

It would be constructed on the site of the old West Leechburg Elementary School. District officials have said they want to have all of the sports in one spot.

Leechburg has played its baseball games there for more than 40 years, even before the elementary school was closed and razed.

The school district initially had hoped to start work on the complex in June as part of a renovation program for both schools and the athletic fields under a $7.7 million bond issue, but the work was postponed when the issues arose.

Project remains shelved

Leechburg Area officials said during Wednesday’s school board meeting the project is on hold while they work through some of West Leechburg’s concerns.

“We are on temporary hold there until the zoning issues are resolved,” said Richard Jaynes of AXIS Architecture. “We don’t think we will proceed with any drawings.”

Cole told council Wednesday about a meeting Sept. 25 in West Leechburg between borough officials, the school board and the school district’s project engineers.

Cole outlined a number of issues that need to be addressed by the school district.

One was ensuring there is enough parking, since it’s possible that more than one sporting event could be taking place at the same time.

Right now, there are about 40 parking spaces. Five school bus parking spaces also are designated.

“We want a designated parking lot with lines and everything,” Councilman Len Kotvas said.

Another matter is controlling stormwater runoff.

“If they don’t have on-site (runoff) containment, the county is never going to let if fly,” Councilman Tim Grantz said.

Then there is the construction, itself.

“The sidewalks have to be ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant,” Cole said, “and from the drawings we saw, that did not seem to be the case.”

Cole said the district’s plans don’t include lighting for the fields so there wouldn’t be any nighttime events. She said that the complex facilities would be available for use by community residents from dusk until dawn.

Council members said they will be meeting with their representative from Building Insurance Underwriters, which the borough contracts to provide zoning and code enforcement services to discuss the project and determine what is necessary to comply with property codes.

Borough Solicitor Jim Favero said it’s likely the school district is going to have to get a variance, at least for the parking issue.

“I think they want to start breaking ground, and they have a lot of hoops to jump through before that,” Cole said.

But she said the meeting with school district officials was good.

“I think this meeting was very positive,” Cole said.

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer. Staff writer Emily Balser contributed.

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