Not the South Fayette of old: Room to play?
To accommodate the nearly 2,000 participants in its youth athletic associations, South Fayette Township is continuing to search for alternatives to alleviate overcrowding that often takes place at Fairview Park, the most popular park in the municipality.
After the township broke ground for three multipurpose fields that will sit on a 21-acre site off Seminary Avenue in mid-September and should be completed in fall of 2017, the township also has plans to expand space at both Morgan and Fairview parks.
“If you go up to Fairview and look at those fields they are not in the condition we want them to be,” township recreation director Paula Simmons said. “Getting those new fields will relieve the stress on the current fields we are using. It will also relieve the traffic and parking issues at Fairview. We will have facilities to house the different things we offer.”
Much of that chaos was caused by the Watson Institute moving into the former El Rancho property off Hickory Grade Road, eliminating several youth soccer fields in the process and creating scheduling conflicts with other organizations.
“Football and soccer officials had to sit down together and make a schedule,” Simmons said. “They work very well together but the park is packed if you would go up there around 5:30 to 6 p.m. throughout the week. It’s at capacity. They made it work because they had to.”
Scheduling conflicts did arise during the season that caused the soccer association to pay the school district for use of campus facilities.
While the multipurpose fields will allow for more room for the township, it also plans to purchase an additional 70 acres for Fairview Park that would connect the facility’s new main entrance to Mayview Road rather than its current structure of the two-lane road through a residential neighborhood.
“It’s in the works,” community development director Andrea Iglar said.
The township recently received permission from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for an extension on a $425,000 grant it received to eventually purchase the property that will eventually border the Hastings development.
Charter Homes and Neighborhoods, which is continuing to finalize the sales agreement with the former owners of the Mayview State Hospital site, would then sell a portion back to the township at a reasonable price.
“Once we get that property it won’t take a lot to make it accessible,” Simmons said. “Once we get the new athletic fields done we will be able to take a step back and really assess what is needed for those 70 acres.”
The extra space is greatly needed with the new events and programs offered in the township, including the inaugural South Fayette Community Day and successful combination of efforts from the township and Upper St. Clair for the new July 4th fireworks display.
“The biggest events that we’ve had are the new fireworks and the first community day, which drew thousands of people,” Iglar said. “When we have improved facilities at Fairview Park it is really going to make a difference in accommodating those types of large events.”
Simmons is also hoping for a new parks master plan to be put on the township’s 2017 budget, which will be discussed throughout the municipality’s November meetings and potentially adopted by mid-December.
The plan would update the outdated 2005 blueprint and would be highlighted by the addition of a recreation center that would contain a gymnasium and walking track. The new facility would be parallel to the township’s thoughts on creating a new municipal building following the sale completion of the Star City Cinema site. The first step of that process is moving the public works facility to Treveskyn, allowing more space at Morgan Park, which is adjacent to the current municipal structure.
“Parks are seasonal,” Simmons said. “When people think recreation they automatically go towards sports. Recreation is so much more than that.”
South Fayette also offers a “movie in the park” series, a disabled sportsman hunt and other classes and activities.
With the influx in residents and strategic advertising efforts offered in exchange for sponsorship of events – rather than money – has increased the community’s connectivity.
The recreation department saw a 4-to 5-percent increase in revenue as a whole, along with total sponsorship money and vendor fees rising 294 percent from last year alone. Donations and sponsorships for the disabled sportsman hunt also doubled this past year.
“As we move forward we are really looking at when we can allocate some of our tax money,” Iglar said. “We’re really looking at multiple ways to develop and enhance the parks because we want to have that amenity for everyone. We really want to be able to enhance what we can offer when it’s all said and done.”