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Four entities to get match funds for recreation grants | Local News

Three municipalities and the New Castle YMCA will receive allocations through the county’s newly created grant match program for park and recreation improvements.

The commissioners Tuesday approved the allocations of $12,577.50 for Bessemer Borough, $12,500 for North Beaver Township, $25,000 for Wilmington Township and $25,000 for the YMCA’s Y-Zone.

According to the plans submitted in the application submitted by Bessemer Borough, it intends to use the funds for the second phase of a master plan for Bessemer Lake Park to establish two play areas for children ages 2 through 12. That area will be connected to a handicapped parking area with an Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant trail. Eight additional parking spaces are to be placed next to the existing basketball court. A paved trail would be built from the parking area to the play area and vandal-resistant electrical service and lighting would be installed for the pavilion, according to the application.

Plans for the North Beaver Township Municipal Park are to install signs and a walking trail and resurface of the ball fields.

The Wilmington Township supervisors specified in their application for the funds that they plan to install a new Sunshade for the ADA-compliant playground, construct a gazebo with electricity and lighting and install two pickleball courts with parking and sidewalks leading to the courts and restrooms.

The New Castle Y plans to use its funds toward the construction of an ADA-compliant pavilion and an ADA-compliant walking path to it at its Neshannock Township facility.

Those funds will be distributed only for use as a match, and only if those entities qualify for state recreation grants from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Commissioner Chairman Morgan Boyd said. The commissioners are using grant-match money from the county’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding. 

County planning director Amy McKinney said applications for the program were sent to all of the county’s municipalities and to nonprofit organizations and the Lawrence County Conservation District. Those interested were to submit their completed applications and specific plans to the county by 4 p.m. Oct. 14. The four entities that received the funds are the only ones that applied for them, she said.

Boyd emphasized the funding is not guaranteed money. The municipalities/organizations only receive it if they are successful in applying for DNCR’s current round under its Community Conservation Partnerships Program.

The commissioners created the matching fund program last month, offering municipalities and other entities seeking the state grants a grant match for park and recreation improvements. The program allows townships, boroughs, the city or nonprofit organizations to apply for the larger state DNCR grants, using the county allocation as a match.

Boyd said last month the state has $36 million available statewide for its grant program, which requires a match from municipalities and nonprofit groups applying for the funding.

The match for municipalities with populations of fewer than 5,000 people is only 20 percent, Boyd said. For those municipalities with populations greater than 5,000, the required match for the state funding is 50 percent.

The county has made $350,000 available from its American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist the municipalities and organizations. A total of about $75,000 was used from that pot of funding for this round.

The match program allows the county to take its own American Rescue Plan funding and leverage it to allow communities to obtain more money, rather giving them the funds to spend directly, Boyd explained last month.

He pointed out that a number of municipalities and other entities have potential projects they want to do. The funds represent a commitment from the county, to allow the eligible entities to pursue the state grants.

Selected applicants through the county’s match program are receiving $25,000 or 50 percent of the grant match requirement, whichever is less.

“This board in the past has placed a lot of focus on recreation in Lawrence County, and this is just a continuation of those efforts,” Boyd said. He added that the county intends to continue the program next year with DCNR’s next round of grant funding in the spring.

Any municipalities that have any ideas for potential recreation projects should be putting them together between now and then, so the county possibly can help them next year, Boyd said.

McKinney noted that since the commissioners formed the program last month, the matching funds commitment was a quick turnaround, and some municipalities reached out but their plans weren’t complete. They are encouraged to apply again next year, she said.

Commissioner Loretta Spielvogel noted the amount allocated “didn’t come close to the money we put aside for it, and it would be nice to continue it.”

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

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