Monday, January 22, 2007

North Whitehall plans for more open space

North Whitehall supervisors plan to acquire more land for open space preservation, parks and recreation over the next several years as part of a plan amended to keep up with the township's population growth.

The goal is to acquire more space in an area considered desirable for development.

Supervisor Chairman Ronald Stahley said the amended plan focuses on the southern part of the township west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that includes Orefield, Schnecksville and Neffs; the central area east of the Turnpike and south of Rockdale Road, including Ormrod; and the largely agricultural area east of the Turnpike and north of Route 329.

The plan estimates that by 2010, the township population will reach 17,425 and recommends that the township obtain 18.6 acres more of park space and work toward developing a network of pathways. The half-mile Ironton Rail-Trail is under way.

The plan suggests that supervisors focus on developing one larger park in the south area of the township to provide a variety of leisure activities for the growing population, which jumped from 10,827 people in 1990 to roughly 16,112 people today. Recent development plans propose 478 new homes.

The township owns 143 acres of open space, parks and recreation areas. About 86 acres are owned by athletic groups, Parkland School District and playground associations. Trexler Nature Preserve contains roughly 1,100 acres.

A survey of 5,973 residents in 2005 showed a desire for hiking/biking areas, baseball and softball fields, soccer, football and lacrosse fields, courts for tennis and basketball, a skateboarding area, more nature preserves and playgrounds. Supervisors plan to continue efforts to obtain grant funding.

More here.

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