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Municipalities do their best to provide amenities, services, ordinances that benefit residents

Rick Stuchal, Mercer Township supervisor, surveys a pile of salt ready for the upcoming winter. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

It may be a park, a junk ordinance or top notch snow removal, but all municipalities in Butler County try to provide the things residents want and need.

In Adams Township, which has experienced a housing boom in the past several years, township manager Gary Peaco said a great township staff, police force, fire department and road crew work hard each day to make the municipality an attractive place to live.

Peaco said tax dollars support the Adams Township and Callery volunteer fire companies, the Mars Area Public Library and the parks, among other things.

“The supervisors have been really proactive in the last several years in creating amenities in the park,” he said.

Progress in the parks

Peaco said many of the additions at the park were paid for in part or in full through grants, which is a benefit to taxpayers.

“We are looking to continue that in the future,” Peaco said.

According to Peaco, Adams Community Park now boasts 250 acres.

The township acquired what was originally a farm in the late 1990s with the intention of creating a park, then added the Porter farm in the mid-2000s.

Supervisors approved the purchase of another 100 acres to the south of the park, then purchased more than 30 acres between the properties that allow the land to be one contiguous park.

Peaco explained that a splash pad that was delayed during the coronavirus pandemic is now being planned for completion next year at the community park on Valencia Road.

Stella Rossi, 10, Emma Libert, 17, and Amy Libert play pickleball at the Adams Township Community Park in July. Julia Maruca/Butler Eagle
Jeff Rossi and his daughter Stella, 10, play pickleball at the Adams Township Community Park in July. Julia Maruca/Butler Eagle

Four new pickleball courts were added at the park this year, and work is ongoing to install lights at one of two baseball fields there.

Township officials are now looking to add more pavilions to the park and expand the walking trail.

Peaco said the Mars Area High School cross country team has used the trail for the past two years for meets.

“It seems to go over pretty well with students, the school and spectators,” Peaco said.

Leslie Ferrari, of Adams Township, walks her pitbull Comet at Adams Township Community Park in April. Butler Eagle File Photo
Recreation for families a priority

Similar governmental efforts have been made in Penn Township to increase recreational opportunities for residents.

Doug Roth, a township supervisor, said Renfrew Park has offered recreation since the early 1970s to young families.

The park, which is on the banks of the Connoquenessing Creek, now boasts an upscale playground for children up to age 12, a pavilion for picnics, and a new pickleball court installed last year by Eagle Scout Hayden Hughes.

The opposite side of Meridian Road from the playground also contains a pavilion as well as a canoe and kayak launch installed by volunteers from the Allegheny Aquatic Alliance.

Roth said township officials collaborated with alliance leaders by donating heavy equipment and an operator to move large stones that serve as steps going down to the creek.

“We’ve also helped at the alliance’s creek cleanups,” he said.

In 2008, the township acquired the former Hartzell farm on Three Degree Road.

The family donated some of the land and a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, along with the township’s matching funds, paid for the rest.

Piper Williams, 1, of Renfrew carries an empty plastic egg while walking around with her family after the Preston Park Easter Egg Hunt in April. Butler Eagle File Photo

“They were envisioning a park there for the community,” Roth said of the Hartzell family.

He said the township sat on the property for a decade, as no funds were available to turn the farmland into a park.

Then in 2017, the township received a grant for phase I of the park plan, and recently purchased another 18 acres there.

“Now, we are hoping to do phase II next spring,” Roth said.

Another parking lot, a three-season pavilion, paving the trails, another restroom and possibly an outdoor adult workout area are planned for the next phase of improvements at the park.

The township estimated a cost of $600,000 for the improvements, but Roth said due to increased costs since the coronavirus pandemic, some items may need to be cut from the next phase.

He said township officials recently received notification that they have been awarded a $300,000 Keystone Grant that will require matching funds.

The $600,000 will go toward park improvements, Roth said.

A swingset was recently installed at the park, and crews will add a swing that can be used by people with disabilities as soon as it comes in.

The $7,500 handicap swing was funded through a county parks grant.

Tom Knights, Butler Township manager, also highlighted parks and recreation as one of the biggest focuses in the municipality.

The township boasts Preston Park off South Eberhart Road, Sawmill Run Park, which is a wooded trail adjacent to Preston Park, and Butler Township Park on South Duffy Road.

The latter includes a dek hockey rink and banquet rooms that can be rented.

Police and fire services supported

Regarding services, Adams Township police force covers the township and the borough of Valencia.

“The supervisors have budgeted funds to keep the police running top notch,” Peaco said.

The Adams Area Fire District built a large, new fire station about five years ago along Route 228 that has already seen upgrades.

The township also supports Callery Volunteer Fire Department because they respond to emergency scenes in the township.

Both fire stations have live-in accommodations for firefighters.

“The money is used to keep the public safe, and the response times are very low,” Peaco said.

The township also took over Three Degree and Valencia roads in the state Department of Transportation’s Highway Transfer Turnback program.

“Three Degree Road for many years was a state road that didn’t get the full rehabilitation we would have liked,” Peaco said, “so we are working to upgrade that road.“

Township officials plan to use traffic impact fee funds paid by developers to realign Davidson Road where it meets Three Degree Road in the second phase of the turnback project, Peaco said.

He said the township tries not to overdevelop by minimizing big-box stores

“Cranberry Township has different philosophies on density than Adams does,” Peaco said. “Adams wants open spaces.”

Adams officials also are collaborating with PennDOT and county commissioners to provide funding for a project to improve the intersection of Route 228 and Three Degree Road near Mars Area Middle School and Mars Area High School, Peaco said.

“We are growing, and we try to do what is best for residents,” he said.

‘Exceptional job’

Regarding services in Penn Township, Roth touted the excellent services he said residents receive from first responders at the Penn Township Volunteer Fire Company and the Penn Township Police Department.

“They do an exceptional job,” Roth said of the police officers. “It’s a small force, but they are dedicated.”

He said supervisors have worked amicably with township police officers for many years.

“Their utmost priority is the safety of the township,” Roth said.

He said although Penn Township is a rather rural community, the job of a policeman there can be dangerous.

“You pull someone over on Route 8 in the middle of the night, you never know what you’re going to get,” Roth said.

Butler Township boasts both a large police force and the Butler Township Volunteer Fire District, which has stations in the Lyndora and Meridian areas of the municipality.

Directing development

According to Knights, almost all 22 square miles in the township are busy.

Butler Township contains three retail sections.

The Bon Aire shopping center is on North Main Street Extension near the exits onto Route 422.

The New Castle Road retail area stretches from Moraine Pointe Plaza east to Butler Senior High School, and includes Point Plaza Shopping Center, which is a large retail center with many and varied stores.

Another retail center in the township is the Greater Butler Mart on Route 8 south across from the Cleveland-Cliffs steel plant.

“Cliffs,” as the producer of electrical steel is known, is one of the largest employers in the county, Knights pointed out.

Three housing developments are currently under construction in the township to accommodate families, empty nesters, single people or anyone else looking to enjoy everything it has to offer.

“Butler Township can be a very welcoming community, with amenities to make it a destination for anyone to visit,” Knights said.

Other services

Township governments also manage services, such as snow removal, leaf pickups and more.

Penn Township provides residents with leaf and grass composting behind the fire station at Airport and Three Degree roads.

Roth stressed that only residents, not landscaping companies, can dump yard waste at the site.

He said the township road crew also will help residents place drainage pipes under their gravel driveways if no utilities are involved, for a small fee.

The road crew has three 10-ton dump trucks, two smaller dump trucks and a pickup truck that are used for snow removal on the township’s 60 miles of roads.

Ordinances are another municipal facet that affects residents and businesses.

Roth encourages residents to review the township burning ordinance before lighting any fires, as well as the driveway ordinance, which lists the requirements for new or newly paved driveways that meet the road.

Penn also has a junk ordinance that prohibits unregistered vehicles, refuse and debris on a property.

“The purpose of the ordinance is to keep the property values up,” Roth said.

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