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Big changes on horizon for Marion Township Community Park

A $50,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be used for new playground equipment and enhancements at Marion Township Community Park. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

A $50,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources could lead to the transformation of Marion Township Community Park, according to Jason McBride, chairman of the township’s board of supervisors.

The grant will largely redevelop, and in some instances replace, parts of the park and will be used toward installation of new playground equipment.

But the upgrade is just one in a sequence of stages toward an increasingly expansive project, McBride said.

The park is located at 2373 West Sunbury Road.

“It’s going to be tremendous for the youth of our community,” McBride said. “There’s hopes down the road, possibly a basketball court. We did have the opportunity approximately four years ago to purchase a couple of acres that adjoins our park.

“We are hoping to add a parking lot over there, because that is one other issue we have, is lack of parking.”

The project will require a $20,000 match from the township, Michele Burd, township secretary/treasurer, said.

Another stage in one grand project

“It’s hard to put a number on the amount of kids (the park) serves, but it is a major player in ball season,” McBride said.

“We have multiple ball teams that use the field throughout the year, for baseball, softball and T-ball,” Burd said.

“Out of ball season, the park is rented about every weekend for family reunions, graduation parties, birthday parties … so, it’s used a lot by the community, not just children,” McBride said.

McBride said the playground renovation builds on other upgrades to the park during the last five years.

“We have a beautiful community, with a beautiful little park, but it’s now getting dated … so, upgrades in the last five years can be considerable,” McBride said. “We put a brand new pavilion up, with all new cement, refurbished picnic tables. We just put in a two-stall, ADA-compliant bathroom, which was a big thing for us,” he said, referring to compliance with the American Disabilities Act. “We were still using outhouses at our park.”

The bathrooms, which cost about $80,000, became possible through other grant funding, McBride said. Grant funding also helped to resolve drainage issues on site, he said.

Another grant made it possible to replace the park’s swing set, Burd added.

McBride and Burd estimate the playground equipment dates to the early 2000s.

“This grant should be just icing on the cake,” McBride said.

Looking toward a bright future

McBride said the township hopes to complete the project in the fall, or next spring. It’s unclear at this point when DCNR could release the funds so the project could begin, McBride said.

The township also hopes to reduce any interruption of the playground’s ongoing use as crews make the upgrades, Burd said.

“I think, being such a rural area north of the county, it’s nice to have a park for the kids to play at, because we don’t have multiple parks up this way, in close proximity to people, like other communities have,” Burd said.

The playground is an asset that serves the community often, because of its location, Burd said.

“I don’t believe we can put into words how honored and blessed we feel to be able to receive such grant funding in such a small municipality,” Burd said. “We’re doing everything we can to try to make it a better community in every direction, and with the county’s help, we’re making it.”

A $50,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be used for new playground equipment and enhancements at Marion Township Community Park. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

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