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Latrobe seeks grant for study on recreation hookup with Unity

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 1:18 a.m.

The Latrobe Parks and Recreation Department has applied for a grant to study whether a joint recreation partnership with Unity Township is advisable.

The city's recreation department director, Jeanne Ashley, presented city council with details of the grant during a meeting Monday.

The Peer to Peer grant will provide $8,500 for the study, which would help answer questions on the feasibility of forming a joint venture between the Latrobe department and Unity Township's recently established recreation board. Representatives from both boards met in January to discuss a potential partnership.

"The state usually applauds the joining of municipalities with grants and funding," Ashley said. "Unity Township has a lot to offer the city of Latrobe. And we have a lot to offer Unity Township."

The city is landlocked, Ashley added, and the township has open spaces. Latrobe's recreation department needs more space, more soccer fields and more softball fields.

"The township's playgrounds have no professional staff," Ashley said. "I don't know that those playgrounds have any supervision. We can offer them professional oversight."

Deputy Mayor Neal Fenton asked if the city would incur any additional costs in taking over the township's playgrounds if a joint program were approved.

"The grant would identify all resources available to us, including assets and liabilities involved," Ashley said. "It would also address what areas needed to be developed in the city and within the township."

Additionally, the grant would propose a funding plan to institute the project.

"Right now we have a stellar recreation program," Fenton said. "I don't want it to end up a mediocre program."

Latrobe Recreation is in a growth spurt and faces challenges in obtaining usable space for various programs. The department offers 120 different programs each year. Residents of Unity Township make up 39 percent of the programs' annual registrations.

The study will take about six to eight months to complete.

"We want to be able to provide services for all of Greater Latrobe," Ashley said. "Unity Township has a great deal to gain, and city residents have a great deal to gain from more open spaces."

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