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Spring Garden vows to replace ball field under 'neighborhood park' plan
Spring Garden will lose a popular baseball field on Tri-Hill Road when the township constructs a new municipal building on the site.
Some residents weren't happy about the trade-off, but township officials recently pledged to find a new site for the 70-foot-baseline ball field within the next 12 months.
The 70-foot-baseline field allows for youth players to learn how to play the sport, but its dimensions utilize most of the available recreational space, officials said.
“There’s no other field in the township like that,” resident Dan McGarry said at an Aug. 29 special meeting.
McGarry encouraged commissioners to consider using township-owned property at Mount Rose Avenue.
“You need a formal commitment to replace (the baseball field), make it part of this plan, and replace the field at Mount Rose Avenue,” McGarry emphasized.
The approved neighborhood park option eliminates “all competitive use of the park facilities,” Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects design team member Ann Yost explained. It offers neither a baseball field nor a multipurpose field, the YSM Landscape Architects president said.
Yost described the park as having an oval walking track, which could fit a flat field in the center sized for children under age 8. In addition, a neighborhood park would provide space for a picnic pavilion and three activities: tot lot, youth playground and splash pad, Yost confirmed.
The recreation commission, which evaluated three options, supported the neighborhood park theme because it best serves the community and a larger number of people overall, Commissioner Mike Thomas said.
Thomas, a member of the recreation commission, noted that the township's greatest challenge is having limited land. He relayed that the recreation commission is interested in "developing" and "investing" in enhanced opportunities for youth at other township parks such as Windsor and Elmwood.
The Tri-Hill Road property is 3.5 acres, and 0.5 acres of it must go toward the police department, a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant requires.
The new Tri-Hill Road municipal complex will be a one-level municipal building that will house an administrative office as well as police and recreation departments, Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects plans show. There will also be space for public meetings.
Commissioners acknowledged that when they approved the facility site plan in March, it included the existing baseball field, which is also why they were open to replacing the field.
The neighborhood park plan, while approved, isn’t finalized, Thomas said. Different “iterations” of it will be presented to commissioners for final approval before anything changes at the site, Yost said.
Commissioner Dan Rooney piggybacked off Thomas’ motion to approve the neighborhood option, adding that commissioners will commit to identifying a site within the next 12 months for the 70-foot-baseline baseball field.
“You can’t just keep kicking recreation away,” McGarry said. “No, if you’re going to do this, you need to commit to using Mount Rose Avenue and putting the field there.”