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Collier joins the list of possible arena sites

| Thursday, Nov. 27, 2003

After approaching Bethel Park and South Fayette with plans for an indoor sports complex, Garth Clarke said he's now looking at a third community -- Collier.

"It seems like an ideal place. We are looking in that area," said Clarke, president of Pittsburgh Indoor Sports, which operates a complex in Harmar. "We still have to keep wandering around, though."

Clarke isn't disclosing where he's looking for property in Collier, a developing township of almost 13 square miles.

Most recently, Clarke was interested in buying or leasing 3.5 acres in Fairview Park in South Fayette. While South Fayette officials were open to the idea of an arena, they were concerned that the only access to the park now goes through a residential area.

They also wanted to ensure that the complex would complement long-term plans for the park.

"We were struggling" in South Fayette, Clarke said. "We can't find land for a reasonable price. We were not allowed to go in the park. A large warehouse-type structure doesn't sit well with the view of the park."

The Fairview Park land that Clarke was looking at has been designated for a picnic grove, ballfields and playgrounds. The township expanded the park several years ago by purchasing part of the former Mayview State Hospital farm.

Township Manager Michael Hoy said the proposal never moved beyond the parks and recreation board.

That board "never made any conclusion. If the developer wants to look in other areas we certainly understand that," he said.

Collier Commissioner Jackie Burkhart said Clarke hasn't contacted anyone with that township government.

"But it's a very interesting idea," said Burkhart, who heads the parks and recreation board. "There is a need for more facilities for sports here, because we are growing so much."

In September 2002, Clarke proposed building a $3 million to $4 million facility near Bethel Park's Millennium Park, also tailored after the Harmar complex. Municipal Planner Jerry Duke said Wednesday the municipality last met with Clarke six to nine months ago and was waiting to hear his company's plans for the site, but never heard back from him.

Bethel Park had sought proposals for a recreational development on a 15-acre tract.

The Harmar complex, which opened in 1999, consists of three artificial-turf fields used for soccer, volleyball, football, field hockey, lacrosse, baseball and cheerleading, as well as two batting cage areas with pitching machines. About 240 games are played weekly at the Harmar arena.

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