Input on Pleasant Valley Park sought
Published: March 14, 2013
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PINE GROVE - Residents still have two more meetings to submit ideas for inclusion in the Pleasant Valley Park Master Plan. After that, one final meeting will be scheduled to present the plan to the entire public. Residents can also e-mail their suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call engineer Ryan Fasnacht at 570-622-4055.
A small group met on February 26 in Pine Grove Borough Hall with Fasnacht reviewing the modifications he had made to the plan from the previous meeting. Eliminated was a recreation building to include a parking area and a septic system. The proposed building was located near the current site of the Tulpehocken Rifle and Pistol Club and it had been agreed that anything planned for that area, even long range, should not be considered. One man had remarked at last month's meeting, "It's difficult to get a rifle range today, so to dismantle one would be a shame." Two multi-purpose fields and parking, however, are still proposed some distance from the ranges just off Berger Road.
Since the group had previously agreed that a walking trail would be relatively easy to construct and could be used by all ages, it was decided to put the establishment of a trail on the top of the list. The route through the park, plus parking areas at entrances to it, were discussed. The decision had also been previously made that the trail should join with the one at the county's Sweet Arrow Lake Park, and eventually with a path leading down into Lebanon County.
Pine Grove borough councilman Scott Zimmerman, who has been overseeing the meetings for the council, noted he would like to see the trail pass by the old PP&L locks. The Swatara Watershed's new Long Term Manager agreed and encouraged the group to preserve whatever historical features remaining from the old PP&L plant as possible. That, said Bill Reichert, adds weight to a project when applying for a grant. He would not object, however, to the removal of some piers in the creek that support an old railroad bridge used by the PP&L to bring in coal. "I'm looking at anything in the watershed that can help (prevent flooding)," said Reichert.
The idea of a multi-use trail was briefly discussed, but would be more difficult to do. According to the county's Park Manager, Bob Evanchalk, the requirements for a multi-use trail are many.
Reichert also noted he had attended a Susquehanna Greenway meeting, and although the boundary is defined, there is talk about maybe looking at the tributaries and the Swatara would be included. "Look closely at building your trail," he said, "and put the best trail in you can."
Walter Schwenk of the Rifle and Pistol Club suggested the trail could run parallel to the range which he described as a 'nice' area. If it's kept on top of a bank, he said, it would not wash out. It was felt, however, that anyone walking the trail would be unnerved by the shooting.
Jerry Newswanger, representing the Pine Grove Area Business Association, agreed constructing a walking trail first was a smart idea. Sections are already in place and would only need some crushed limestone to complete. "If the track is started and used, you'll get community involvement," said Newswanger.
Fasnacht flashed several scenes of a wetland area on a screen which the group felt would be an ideal route for the trail to wind through. In addition, an environmental learning center could be established in the area and used by high school students since it is only a short distance from the school property.
Included in the plan are numerous ball fields, little league fields, concession stands, toilet facilities, and a recreation building.
Fasnacht's map of the Pleasant Valley Park area shows the flood plain area and the wetlands. According to Fasnacht, the wetlands provide flood mitigation and he said, "The best thing to do is not impact them."
He provided a history of the flood plain mapping which he said was started after hurricane 'Agnes'. There was a detailed model after that, said Fasacht, however, the model could actually have been done at any time since Agnes. According to Fasnacht, BG's Market had flooded during the 2011 flood and it isn't in the flood plain.
Before a more specific plan is finalized, a wetland delineation must be done, as well as a 'bog turtle' study and clearance. It was noted also that although the borough has a Recreation Board, it could delegate the responsibilities of the Pleasant Valley Park to an independent Recreation Board.
Zimmerman and councilman Tony Gurski agreed. "I'd like to see a lot of community involvement and have organizations delegated to certain duties," said Zimmerman.
Gurski noted the park would draw people to the area and felt a board made up of people who are involved with the users was the best way to go. "Have less government involvement. Have private groups, with the council's backing."
Reichert reminded the group, however, that there needs to be someone to oversee everything. Fasnacht agreed. There will be maintenance, operation, and financial support needed.