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Renovations coming to area parks

The site of a new pickle ball dome in Cranberry Township’s Graham Park is a work in progress Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

This summer, when school lets out, there is no shortage of activities for the children of Butler County area.

Over the past few months, towns across the county have been hard at work both renovating existing attractions or building new ones in time for summer.

Cranberry Township

Those who drop by the UPMC Passavant Graham Park Sportsplex in Cranberry Township this summer for some exercise will find some major changes from last year. Since March 13, the courts at the Sportsplex have been closed for a major renovation project.

Prior to the renovation, the courts portion of the massive Graham Park Sportsplex consisted of outdoor tennis, basketball and bocce ball courts. When the renovation is finished, the existing tennis courts will be replaced with six new pickleball courts to accommodate one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

While there are already pickleball courts at the Sportsplex, the new pickleball courts will be placed under an air-dome system to ensure that games can be played rain or shine.

Jim Brower, of Cranberry Township, looks over the progress at the site of a new pickleball dome at Graham Park in Cranberry Township on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

According to Cranberry Township Parks and Recreation director Pete Geis, the new courts are expected to be completed in early June, depending on weather.

Tennis and basketball players need not fear, as a new and improved pair of tennis courts will be built on the location of the original basketball court, while a new basketball court will be built on the site where the bocce courts once stood.

“There currently is no realistic need for bocce courts,” said Geis. “But this is Cranberry, so should the need arise, we'll do it.”

The new tennis courts are expected to open sometime in June, while the new basketball court is not expected to open until late summer.

Caleb Mason, of Grove City, shoots basketball as work to upgrade sports courts at UPMC Passavant Sportsplex at Graham Park began March 13. The project is replacing the existing tennis courts with six new pickleball courts beneath an air-dome system on Tuesday March 7, 2023. New tennis courts will be built where the existing basketball courts are located, while new basketball courts will replace the existing bocce courts. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

There will be no major changes to the rest of the Sportsplex, which also features areas for soccer, baseball, football, dek hockey and lacrosse, as well as a paved bicycle and walking trail, a fishing pond, and a “Little Free Library.”

The Sportsplex isn’t the only attraction in Cranberry Township which has seen a major renovation this year. Recently Kids Castle Playground on Ernie Mashuda Drive reopened, after the completion of its Refresh Project.

The Kids Castle renovation upgraded safety standards at the playground by adding new and improved “fall-surfacing,” as well as adding new sculptures and new playground apparatus such as swings and zip-lines.

"Everything’s cleaned up, power-washed, painted,“ said Geis. ”It’s beautiful.“

Slippery Rock

Hole No. 5 at Slippery Rock Borough Park is part of a new nine-hole course. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

A relatively new take on an ancient game, disc golf has taken the town of Slippery Rock by storm, and now residents have some new holes to play with the opening of a public nine-hole course.

The new course, located outside the Slippery Rock Rec Center on North Main Street, was funded largely by donations from community residents. According to Slippery Rock Area Parks & Recreation director Denton Zeronas, the donations totaled around $10,000, much of which went toward the installation of the baskets which mark the “holes” of the course.

The course offers two different lengths of play depending on skill level, with one measuring 2,087 feet and the other measuring 2,492 feet.

This marks the second disc golf course to come to the town of Slippery Rock. The first, an 18-hole course on the campus of Slippery Rock University, opened in 2012. In total, according to the website UDisc, there are seven disc golf courses in Butler County, including two in Cranberry Township.

Penn Township

Harcrest Community Park on Three Degree Road in Penn Township is set to expand.

Last spring, Penn Township purchased a 17.5-acre parcel adjacent to Harcrest Park, and the Parks and Recreation Committee has spent the past few months mulling over how to use it. Currently, the township is collaborating with the engineering firm Herbert, Rowland & Grubic on a draft plan for the renovation of the public facility.

The upgrade has been made possible by a successful $300,000 grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, which was several years in the making.

The grant application lingered in the system for three years, during which time it was passed back and forth between the DCNR and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal agency. By the time it was finally transferred back to and approved by the DCNR, rampant inflation had taken hold, and Penn Township had been forced to downscale ambitions slightly.

“The $300,000 is not worth as much as it was when we first applied for it,” said township supervisor Doug Roth.

For now, there are plans to add another pavilion, a large parking lot, and a quarter-mile running/walking track to Harcrest Park. Also in the plans is an outdoor learning center where teachers can take students to learn about nature.

Originally, Penn Township had plans to also add pickleball courts and adult exercise equipment. However, Roth admitted that due to the financial crunch caused by inflation, these plans are unrealistic at this time.

Seven Fields

Seven Fields Town Park Pool’s concession stand was completed as part of the first phase in the borough’s renovation project. Submitted Photo

During summertime, Seven Fields Town Park Pool is one of the few places Butler County kids can go to cool off. By the time it opens this summer, both the pool and the surrounding park will have gotten a much-needed renovation.

This February, Seven Fields began the second phase of the renovation project, which includes upgrading the nearby locker rooms and bathrooms. There are also plans to add a pickleball court.

The transformation project will be helped by a grant of $7,500 which the town of Seven Fields received from the Butler County Board of Commissioners in early April. This portion of the funding will pay for fencing and an anti-slip floor around the pool, as well as a drop ceiling and lighting for the pool restrooms.

The pool was able to open for the 2023 season.

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