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Centre Region Parks & Rec Kicks Off Long Range Planning By Asking Community What It Wants

People writing ideas on paper
Anne Danahy

About 110 people turned out to learn more and share their opinions about the area’s parks, open spaces and recreational facilities Wednesday evening for a meeting that was part of the Centre Region Parks & Recreation's comprehensive planning.

“We are hoping to get some really great information from the community on what their thoughts are for the future of parks and recreation as a whole," said Pam Salokangas, director of Centre Region Parks & Rec. "Whether that’s facility-related or trails or open space, playground equipment, dog parks — We want to hear it all.”

Centre Region Parks & Rec is already one of the biggest municipal park systems in the state, according to the consultants working on the project. The meeting was the first public session in the year-long planning process. The information gathered will be used to put together a comprehensive plan to guide Parks & Rec over the next 10 to 15 years.

They’ve already heard some suggestions, including pickle ball courts, an indoor recreation center and outdoor areas for nature lovers. On Wednesday, after an overview of the process, community members shared their ideas — writing them on notecards and on flipboards at stations focused on topics such as swimming and youth programs.

Rosemary Stewart, who lives in College Township is new to the area. She said she was impressed with the municipalities in the Centre Region working together. And, she had a few ideas to share.

“I would like to see an outdoor ice skating rink," she said. "That is one thing that I am missing here —outdoor ice skating.”

Another idea she likes is having a place, such as a website, for meet-up groups to post information on hiking trips and other events.

Jonathon Smith, of Stormstown, is a soccer coach with Centre Soccer Association. He would like to see turf fields with lights.

"It's something we've needed for a long time," he said. "Every year, we come to the point in the fall where we can't practice because there's no more light." 

In the spring, the problem becomes wet, muddy fields.

Working with its consultants, Parks & Rec will put together a plan that will be presented to the Centre Region municipalities in November.

Centre Region residents can take a survey on the Parks & Rec website. And a survey will be mailed to a random sampling of about 2,000 households.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.
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