Fate of Spring Garden Twp. recreation programs in doubt
Several Spring Garden Township residents recently told the board of commissioners that without the township-sponsored youth basketball program, many kids wouldn’t be exposed to the sport.
Yet, like other longstanding parks and recreation programs, there's no guarantee the basketball program will be around after 2018, township manager Greg Maust said.
"The future of recreation here at Spring Garden is an ongoing point of consideration for this board,” he said.
Maust explained that commissioners are weighing the township's limited geography and its available space with the cost to reliably run recreational programs.
He said the township funds a recreational coordinator's salary at $33,000. But some residents are closely watching how their tax dollars are spent.
A cadre of township residents last year did not support a new $20 million municipal complex, Maust said. Those plans added pavilions, walking trails and athletic fields on a township-owned 56-acre parcel at 1799 Mount Rose Ave., according to the township's architect, Murphy and Dittenhafer.
Commissioners recently approved an $11.7 million municipal complex conceptual design that houses administrative, police and recreation departments at the existing Tri-Hill Road location.
It also relocates an existing recreational field after demolition of the Tri-Hill building, according to the township building committee.
“So, what the future of recreation is for Spring Garden, it’s up to the elected officials on where they want to be and what they want to offer,” Maust said.
Indian Rock Elementary School fourth-grader Olivia Diehl, who in 2017-18 played in her first year for the Honey Bees, told the commissioners that had she tried out for the competing Suburban York Basketball Club, "I most likely wouldn't have made it."
“Then what would I do?” she asked. “Quit basketball even though I have a hidden talent?”
Olivia credited commissioners with giving her “great coaches” who taught her how to play defense, as well as “how to get rebounds, jump balls and how to use the correct form when shooting.”
Her sentiments were echoed by those who went through the program decades before her.
Eli Gilbert, now a coach, lauded the directors and coaches who visited him at his house each season to ask his mother if he was going to sign up.
He explained that "as a child of a single mother," the fact that he was sought after to make sure he was enrolled left a big impact on him.
“I do understand times have changed, things are a little bit different; budgets and things are in consideration nowadays,” Gilbert said.
Garth Ericson, a former Manchester Township recreational director and a basketball coach, told commissioners his daughter, who is in kindergarten, relishes the program.
He said when he coached her he couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t able to do “certain things.”
“It turns out, she’s autistic,” Ericson said
A program like Spring Garden's, which isn't focused on the "best of the best," gives her the "exposure to a sport she loves," he added.
"She doesn’t want to rebound; she doesn’t even really want to shoot," Ericson said. "She just wants to run back and forth. And without a program like this, I don’t really know how I’d be able to nurture that interest for her.”