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Parks to get face-lift

Penn Hills parks will get a much-needed overhaul through a $90,000 capital improvements plan.

The long-term plan calls for the creation of an extreme sports park for skateboarding, in-line skating and bicycles at a cost of another $100,000. That facility would be built on the site of the abandoned tennis courts at Duff Park.

Basic improvements will include at least four new backstops, putting shingles on the roofs at numerous picnic grove shelters, a half-dozen sets of new bleachers, new fencing and restrooms, municipal Parks and Recreation Director Dan Miller said.

About $161,000 was set aside for parks and recreation projects from a $10 million capital improvements bond issue taken out last year, Penn Hills Mayor William DeSantis said.

“But we were not anticipating using that all in one year,” Miller said. “And as it currently stands, we haven’t even put a dent in the $90,000 figure we were planning on using.”

It’s always difficult to work around activities in the parks from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Miller said.

“Now is when we need to start to pick up speed on our punch list of projects,” Miller said. “We’ve been putting much more emphasis over the last two to three weeks on smaller projects that can be handled by four part-time employees.”

All 10 neighborhood parks remain open, as do two of the four large municipal parks: Duff Park, where landscaping was just completed and Turner Friendship, with youth soccer and football fields.

And although Penn Hills Park, home for the past decade to the cancelled Halloween attraction known as Screaming Hollow, and Universal Park are considered closed, municipal officials point out that people are still welcome to use the grounds.

“The facilities are closed but the grounds remain open, if people are willing to park and walk in to those parks,” Miller said. “We’re not putting up ‘No Trespassing’ signs, but the fact is the restrooms, the concessions and the picnic groves are closed until we address our needs. It’s a minor inconvenience to improve a community asset.”

Some capital improvement projects proposed in the 2003 budget, including batting cages on the old volleyball courts and a restricted dog exercise area at Turner Friendship Park will have to be carried over into next year.

Penn Hills Deputy Clerk Diane Fitzhenry said other proposals include some “aesthetic” concerns, such as piles of sand, clay and infield mix for the baseball diamonds being moved to isolated locations in the parks and being enclosed in concrete Jersey barriers.


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