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Proposed center gets extra $1M boost from state

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2002

Peters' proposed $5 million community center has received a $1 million boost from the state, officials said Tuesday.

The 38,000-square-foot facility planned along Meredith Drive in Peterswood Park will include two full-size basketball courts for multipurpose use, an indoor track and exercise rooms. Additional softball fields are planned on the property.

To pay for the center, the Peters council planned to float a $5 million bond next year. The grant could change that, but state Rep. John A. Maher, an Upper St. Clair Republican, said the municipal officials should look at freeing up money to reduce residents' costs on an expensive sewer project. Maher's district includes Peters.

"I'm hoping this landmark grant will not only aid with the new park infrastructure, but I am encouraging the township to consider … assisting Ivy Lane residents' costs with connecting to the proposed sewer line," said Maher, likening the grant to "pennies from heaven."

On Ivy, sewage from residents' failing septic tanks runs down the street and into the creek, making the sewer line necessary, Peters Manager Mike Silvestri said.

Many residents there earn low incomes or are retired and living on fixed budgets. Several claim to have gotten estimates as high as $17,000 to connect. They say they cannot afford it.

The township planning commission will review site plans for the recreation center at 7 p.m. Jan. 16, assistant township Manager Paul Lauer said.

Even before yesterday's grant announcement, Peters officials had given the go-ahead on the community center plans. This month, planning commissioners approved a height variance for the building. The zoning hearing board set conditions for developing the center within a residential zone.

The board is prohibiting lights and a public announcement system to be used on the softball field in order to accommodate residents along Rebecca Drive. The board is requiring the township to provide trees to screen residents' views of the center and softball field. Also, lights in the parking area must be shut off an hour after activities are over.

A community center has been planned for this spot in Peterswood Park since 1987. Originally, the facility was planned to be built even closer to Rebecca Drive, Silvestri said.

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