Township ponders building a park

ContributedThis drawing shows proposed plans for a park in Springfield Township, which would be behind the municipal building on Old Ash Road. Supervisors and park committee members are trying to determine how to move forward with the project.

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP – If Springfield Township officials build a park, will people come?

That’s what supervisors wondered at their meeting on Tuesday night as they reviewed plans for a township park that would be located behind the municipal building on Old Ash Road.

Preliminary plans show a park that would cost $1.6 million. Even with the possibility of donations and grants, supervisors and park committee members agreed that that price tag may not be realistic.

“This is just a starting point with everything included,” said Jim Naret, a project manager with Gateway Engineers Inc., the township’s engineer.

That number would include a parking area, playground, stage with seating, picnic shelter, and an 8-foot-wide wooden boardwalk.

“The amenities are expensive,” he said.

Site prep and paving are estimated at $100,000 each, and the township also has to be careful with nearby wetlands.

The township still has to determine how the project would be funded, and supervisors and committee members went back and forth on questioning whether residents and visitors would be interested in a park.

Committee member Jason Schepp asked if a park would be worth it, considering there are parks in Grove City and Slippery Rock.

The current goal is to determine what features the park should have, and it could be done in phases, said John Trant, the township’s acting administrator.

These kinds of projects get bigger, not smaller, and the township also needs to consider liability insurance and maintenance and security costs, Schepp said.

Many township projects have a big price tag, but there are grants out there, said Rick Dillaman, chair of the board of supervisors.

“How can we stitch it together?” he asked.

The township doesn’t intend to spend $1.6 million on a park, and supervisors need to determine whether it’s worthwhile for the future, Dillaman said, noting that he hears residents say “there’s nothing to do” in Springfield.

“I’ve always wanted a park,” Supervisor Dave Swartz said.

Kids want to play mini golf, go swimming, or play indoors, said Schepp, who wants to make the best decision for the next generation.

“I wish kids went outside and played all the time,” he said.

The community is aging, and Swartz said he can picture older residents walking in the park; the township needs to create opportunities for them, too.

The project could start small with a parking area, a picnic shelter, and bathroom near the township’s multi-modal trail, which will come up behind the municipal building, said Rhonda McClelland, Springfield’s office manager.

Park committee members agreed to meet again soon to decide how they want to proceed.