Lebo commissioner: “amenities matter”

Published Nov 26, 2013 at 9:12 am (Updated Nov 26, 2013 at 9:12 am)

The Mt. Lebanon commission voted 3-2 to assign $637,400 for field improvements at the Middle/Wildcat field at its Nov. 26 meeting. Proposed improvements mainly consist of installation of artificial turf. Overall, the municipality will pay about $750,000 toward the initial project cost. The commission will allocate the remaining $112,600 at a future meeting.

Commissioners Kelly Fraasch and Matt Kluck both voted no on the resolution. Fraasch cited health concerns with the artificial turf and also said she felt the commission had more important projects at hand than turfing fields. Kluck expressed unease with the use of unassigned funds, and the assumption that unassigned funds would be available for use in the future.

Recreation Director Dave Donnellan previously estimated the total cost of the project over 16 years at about $1.5 million. This includes $600,000 for an initial round of turf replacement. The installed turf would need to be replaced at eight-year intervals.

Commissioner Dave Brumfield said, “For me, this project has been a priority for four years. For some in this community, it has been a priority for 10 years. It’s true turf may not be needed for public works or safety, but you can bet every real estate agent who shows a family a home in Mt. Lebanon is going to drive them past these facilities.”

Commissioner Kristen Linfante echoed Brumfield’s comments. “I believe this project will bring value to every single home, whether there are children living there or not,” she said. “These amenities do matter. It’s common sense.”

In addition to allocating funds, the resolution passed at the meeting directed the municipality to establish a team consisting of representatives from the school district, Gateway Engineering and the sports advisory board. The team will tackle a number of other issues related to the project, including developing a strategy for field use, establishing a fee structure for field use, creating a strategy for funding the non-municipal share of the project and drafting a maintenance agreement with the school district.

The team should present its recommendations to both Mt. Lebanon’s sports advisory board and the commission by Feb. 11, 2014. The target start date for construction is Aug. 1, 2014.

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