Published: January 16, 2014
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PINE GROVE - The sixth and final meeting of the proposed Pleasant Valley Recreation Park Master Site Plan study committee was held Dec. 18 with six of the original 18 members present, plus a newcomer. The newcomer, a member of the Tulpehocken Rifle and Pistol Club, accompanied two other club members.
Meetings to formulate the Master Site Plan began in March 2011, followed by two others that year, in April and May. After a long interruption due to the flood that hit the borough in September, the meetings were put on hold with the fourth one finally scheduled in January 2013, followed by one in February. According to Alfred Benesch engineer, Ryan Fasnacht, who chaired the meetings, a final public meeting will be scheduled at the end of February 2014 or the beginning of March, followed by Pine Grove borough's adoption of the plan.
Before adoption takes place, the plan will be sent to adjacent municipalities and anyone involved with the study. Members of the communities will have 45 days to submit comments. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will also review the plan and any comments or recommended changes to it will be forwarded to committee members for review prior to the final public meeting. What the DCNR would insist upon, said Bob Evanchalk, Schuylkill County's Park Director, would be one of their requirements because their money was involved with the planning. A $10,000 grant, with matching funds from the borough, paid for the development of the plan. Fasnacht, however, was not concerned about what the DCNR might require, other than something administrative. "The DCNR went over the scope of their requirements before we started," said Fasnacht. "The next time they'd read it (the plan) would be when you would be going for a grant. Without a Site Plan, they wouldn't look at a request for a grant."
Fasnacht reviewed the changes to the plan that had been agreed upon by the committee at the previous meeting, plus input he had gathered from telephone interviews he had made. He provided three maps and a breakdown of the suggested phases for implementing the plan, plus estimated costs. A walking trail beginning on Spruce Street, near the ambulance building, and ending on Route 443, across from Felty's garage is the first part of the plan, although Evanchalk stressed the importance of making sure the public is aware that the plan is not set in stone. "It can be changed," he said.
Fasnacht also noted he had discussed the plan which includes six ball fields, plus areas for basketball and volleyball, with the area's Long Term Recovery Manager, Bill Reichert from the Schuylkill County Conservation District. According to Pine Grove borough councilmember Tom Fickinger, Reichert had noted that afternoon in a watershed meeting, that the Pleasant Valley Park could be a 'poster child' for the entire county. The area, he said, can be used for both recreation and flood control. "Reichert said he's looking for this to be a model," said Fickinger.
The members also discussed the area currently leased to the Tulpehocken Rifle and Pistol Club and whether the space now used was enough to satisfy safety regulations. Tony Gurski suggested a wetland area be constructed behind the shooting range which he thought would help keep people away from the area. Although wetland and floodplain mitigation areas are on the plan, none were shown near the club's location which is off Berger Road behind two proposed multi-purpose fields.
The proposed 210 acres that make up the Pleasant Valley Park is owned by Pine Grove borough, though portions of the area are located in Pine Grove Township. The land was purchased from the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company in 1972 along with the Sweet Arrow Lake Park which was sold to the county in 2001.
Conceptual cost estimates to develop Phase 1, the trail from Spruce Street to Pleasant Valley Road, is $291,000. Phase 2 consists of improving the existing Little League Field and is estimated at $81,000. Phase 3 would complete the project for a total estimated cost of $3,783,000.