Hempfield launches $5 million parks overhaul, lowers speed limit |

Hempfield launches $5 million parks overhaul, lowers speed limit

Jacob Tierney

Hempfield Township has started a $5 million overhaul of its parks after about three years of planning and fundraising.

The township recently began work on the first phase of its Parks and Recreation Revitalization Project, and supervisors Monday approved state grant applications that would accelerate the process if approved.

Parks and recreation Director Jason Winters said it’s been about 20 years since there were major renovations at Hempfield and Swede Hill parks.

“We do the general maintenance at the parks, but we haven’t done an overall master plan since 1996,” he said.

The master plan was revealed two years ago. It calls for millions in renovations to be funded without tax dollars, instead using fundraising, grants and a special development fund that developers pay into through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

One of the pavilions at Hempfield Park is being renovated. Later this year, workers will renovate another and replace the fencing, dugout, and field at one of the two baseball diamonds there.

If the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources approves the township’s two grant applications, it would provide enough money to build a dog park at Hempfield Park, renovate the second baseball field and build a playground at Swede Hill Park.

This work likely would not begin until next year, Winters said.

The master plan calls for major additions, such as an amphitheater, athletic fields and tennis courts at Hempfield Park and two pavilions at Swede Hill Park. The project probably will take eight to 10 years, Winters said.

Supervisors voted to drop the speed limit on Cribbs Station Road from 35 to 25 mph in response to complaints from residents, but one couple said the change might not be enough to improve life on the mile-long back road.

Barb and Richard Smerkar said a lower speed limit is a step in the right direction for their home street, which they say many drivers use as a shortcut on their way to Youngwood or New Stanton.

A November traffic study found almost 2,000 cars use the two-lane road every week.

“The road was not built for that kind of traffic,” Barb Smerkar told supervisors. “I fear for my safety every time I cross the road to go to my mailbox.”

The Smerkars told supervisors there needs to be enforcement of the new limit. Barb Smerkar said the road is in bad repair and needs to be repaved. Drainage should be added to prevent the stagnant water that builds up on both sides of the street, she said.

“We will forward this to our public works department. We will have a discussion about this,” Supervisor Tom Logan told the Smerkars.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].

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