BP council, school board joint meeting covers a lot of ground

Published Apr 8, 2014 at 9:31 am (Updated Apr 8, 2014 at 9:31 am)

From snow removal to what is to become of the former Bladerunners ice rink to sidewalks to new development to what to do with an old school, members of Bethel Park Council and the Bethel Park School Board had lots to talk about at joint meeting held April 7.

The meeting, held at the school district’s administration building, began with comments from Ron Arnoni, who has been appointed to fill the unexpired district justice term of Rob Wyda. Wyda, who died suddenly last year, had worked actively with the district and with the students. Arnoni assured officials he intends to do the same.

Superintendent Nancy Rose told municipal officials the district appreciated the great job public works crews did in keeping roads clear during a particularly challenging winter.

Rose asked for a meeting between school district and municipal officials to continue to coordinate school starting times with roads that need to be cleared first.

“That way you you’re not racing around,” she said.

School board members were particularly interested in what is happening with the YMCA’s development of the former skating rink, located adjacent to the high school. Although the municipality has given approval for the nearly $8 million project, officials have no time frame for when the project might move forward, explained Jerry Duke, municipal planner.

YMCA officials are current involved in litigation with a neighborhood group that is challenging the development, as well as local fitness businesses that have launched their own challenge against the YMCA’s tax exempt status, Duke explained.

School board President Donna Cook questioned if there would be adequate parking for both the YMCA patrons and those attending high school events.

“It meets all requirements,” said Duke, who added that the parking study had factored in Friday night football games.

Municipal officials shared details of new residential and commercial developments, as well as those that will soon go before council for approval.

Of particular interest to school district officials was the redevelopment of the Cool Springs Golf Center along Baptist Road, because it is adjacent to Lincoln Elementary School.

The district had an agreement with the former owners under which students could be evacuated to the golf center in the event of an emergency.

“The new owners said they would be more than happy to continue that agreement,” said council President Tim Moury. “They have certainly shown an interest in working with the district.”

Moury added that the golf center owners might be amicable to allowing student use of facilities during school hours.

Municipal and district officials agreed that the relationship between the municipal cable access TV station and the high school has been mutually beneficial and especially good for students looking to pursue a career in broadcasting.

Both entities agreed to research grants that might be available to fund sidewalks after Rose mentioned grants available to improve student fitness with activities such as walking to school.

Councilman Mark O’Brien brought up the subject of Logan Elementary School, located in his ward and unused for several years.

“(Neighbors) want to see something done, but they are cautious,” O’Brien said.

Residents in Councilman Jim McLean’s ward, which is located near the high school, have concerns about students driving through the neighborhood, he said.

Rose said the district policy states that students who have a traffic violation going to or from school will have their campus parking privileges revoked.

“We will elevate the awareness and make sure they know they are running the risk of losing that parking pass,” she said.

At the end of the meeting, officials from both governing bodies agreed that they should make the joint meeting an annual event.

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