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Centre Region Council of Governments
REGIONAL PARK PLANNING COMMITTEE
 2643 Gateway Drive #1 State College, PA  16801-3885 
Phone:  (814) 231-3071    Fax:  814. 235.7832   E-Mail:  crpr@crcog.net
Serving the Borough of State College and the Townships of College, Ferguson, Harris and Patton

OAK HALL REGIONAL PARKLANDS
COMMUNITY MEETING SUMMARY

Presentation of the Draft Master Site Plan

Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 7 PM at
the College Township Municipal Building, 2nd Floor Meeting Room
1481 E. College Ave., State College

Welcome and Introductions(with approximately 72 in attendance plus 3 staff and 2 consultants)

Ronald J. Woodhead, Director CRPR, welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the members of the Regional Park Planning Committee and the Project Consultants:

Regional Park Committee from Ad Hoc Regional Park Committee:

Dan Klees, College Township; Dick Mascolo, Ferguson Township; James Rosenberger, State College Borough 

Regional Park Committee from Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority:

Sue Mascolo, Ferguson Township; Donna Conway, State College Borough; Donna Ricketts, State College Area School District; Kathy Matason, College Township

Staff members:

Ronald J. Woodhead, Director CRPR; Jeff Hall, Recreation Supervisor-Sports & Fitness; Jim Steff, COG Executive Director 

Project Consultants: Jim Pashek, Dan Jones 

(Note: The PowerPoint presentation used for this meeting is posted at www.crpr.org. The draft master site plan for the Oak Hall parklands as the Layout Configuration Diagram for Whitehall Road parklands is also posted there. )

Mr. Jim Pashek, Pashek Associates, reviewed the goals for the meeting and answered the question, “What is a Master Site Plan.” A Master Site Plan is a policy document that sets the framework that helps us make decisions about the uses of the parks. This usually results in a concept drawing of the park development. The Master Site Plan is really three or four sections; 1) public process of collecting information and ideas;
2) analysis process where you inventory what is available on the site (both physically and culturally);
3) start design, giving form to the ideas and comments that have been made;
4) finding the costs and prioritizing.
He then reviewed what has been done so far to obtain information and comments. 

Mr. Dan Jones, Pashek Associates, reviewed each regional park site; Oak Hall Parklands, 68 acres and Whitehall Road parklands, 75 acres. He talked about their site analysis that included the soils, access, slopes, location, surroundings, and the specifics of each site (potentials and challenges). The analysis is much more than just facts but includes cultural and natural information about the park. While public input regarding the regional parks will be used for both sites, the immediate focus will be on the Master Site Plan for the Oak Hall parklands. He then reviewed the public input to date from surveys, hearings, interviews, national standards, and planning committee meetings.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Pashek then presented what municipal park facilities are recommended for the Centre Region. The also presented (1) the draft Master Site Plan for Oak Hall and (2) the Whitehall Road Parkland Layout Capacity Diagram. Talking about Oak Hall, Mr. Jones indicated that they are making key assumptions: 1) the topography does not support numerous sport fields and extensive excavation will not take place to provide the flat areas needed for all the sports fields 2) Using the entrance road that is already there; keep the house (rented to assist with site security, but not as a feature of the park.) 3) The flatter area is the logical place for the athletic fields 4) The logical place for parking would be close to the rental house area and maintenance facility 5) Keep the conservation area and possible expand it. 6) develop a core area – for pavilions, restrooms, playground, etc. 7) Keep the long hedgerow that has been there 8) Maybe form new hedgerows so that the wind affects would be lessened. He related that walking is the most popular in all the surveys they did. He reviewed the drawing for Whitehall Road (which is not a Master Site Plan but just a Capacity Diagram) to help identify what should be planned for Oak Hall. The Capacity Diagram revealed that there is a lot of acreage there that is well suited for athletic fields. The draft Master Site Plan for Oak Hall includes three softball fields, a (fenced, off-leash) dog park, the house, parking lot, maintenance facility, a pavilion, playground, volleyball, play fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, restrooms, small combination field, septic fields, trails (perimeter and through park).

Mr. Jones indicated they had five goals for this project: They wanted to 1) respect the environment, 2) respond to the community 3) put the right set of uses together in the right place 4) be economically feasible and 5) the park to be beautiful.

Mr. Jones then explained that there was an exercise for those present. Mr. Pashek related that there was a draft Master Site Plan of Oak Hall, a copy of the Capacity Diagram for Whitehall Road, and some paper, pencils, markers on each table. Each table was to discuss what they liked about the draft, what they didn’t like, and their suggestions. Also, each table was to indicate what they thought should be completed first. They were to focus on the Oak Hall site but could comment on the Whitehall site. A question was asked as to how windy it is at Oak Hall. The answer was VERY windy. The concern was that tennis would not work if it was very windy. It was noted that there would be windscreen but there was still concern about the wind. A question was then asked about the time line as to what would be completed first? Mr. Pashek indicated he did not know and that probably would be decided by the COG.

The question was asked if there were sink holes at Oak Hall and at Whitehall. Mr. Jones indicated there are no apparent sinkholes at either site. The groups then started to discuss. The results of the discussion are included in Appendix A.

Mr. Pashek then gathered information from each table and then the sheets would be gathered. He asked that the top three items be presented in each category by a representative from each group.

Steve Ackey, State College Borough, the likes – first Oak Hall, then Whitehall - 1) planned well, that there would not be a lot of excavating to flatten the land, 2) having Softball fields (there was a thought that this would bring in less traffic) 3) core area; needs improvement -1) restrooms – only one set in the middle – should be more- also more shelter 2) porous for material in parking lot 3) pick your own produce – not community gardens – young farmers could raise and sell produce – pick your own 4) trails could be of various surfaces Development priorities – softball fields and trails Whitehall in general – more balance; it looks more like a sports complex than a park. They would like to see the hedgerow idea incorporated at Whitehall.

Larry Hutchinson, Harris Township, - This group looked at the non sports items in this park, 1) pleased with the walking hedgerows and the fact that the park has been planned environmentally sensitive, 2) Amphitheatre – they realize that Orchard Park has one but the stage is gravel which is not appropriate for theatre 3) could it have basketball courts in the area where the tennis courts are located (Mr. Jones indicated there are basketball courts there) 4) some or all of the hiking paths could be bike friendly, some could be x country skiing friendly 5) there is a need in the Centre Region for an indoor facility.

Ron Smith from the area, 1) walking path or bike path along Linden Hall Road and connect it on the left hand side to the park 2) ice rink and toboggan slide would work great 3) indoor tennis courts that may pay for themselves – there is one at the University but they are not always available 4) when you built softball fields don’t have to have magnificent fences around them – this park may be should look like an agricultural park rather than an urban park 5) do not obstruct the view of Mt. Nittany.

Ann Kelley – Oak Hall, 1) liked the walking paths would like to include more natural areas than are shown 2) liked the absence of light 3) liked the attention to environmental issues 4) could use a bike connection to Linden Hall Road 5) Model Airplane airport - smaller one at Oak Hall and larger one at Whitehall Road 6) concern about wind in relation to softball field Whitehall – 1) community gardens 2) biking could be connected at some point to Rothrock.

Asked Ron Smith if all his comments were for the Oak Hall site or were some for Whitehall. Mr. Smith indicated that the indoor tennis facility should be Oak Hall. Question asked if he is talking about a bubble or brick and mortar, because the bubble would not hold up in the wind. Mr. Smith related that wind was less forceful on some parts of the site; he was thinking that the best location for the enclosure would be around where the Dog Park is on the plan.

Paul Rebarchak, Oak Hall, - 1) looking at both plans and the budget constraints over the next several years why Whitehall Road is not being developed first since it would serve more groups. He thinks it just makes sense to do Whitehall first 2) should allow enough buffer between Oak Hall Parkland and the Everhart property 3) likes the idea of no lights 4) major concern the residents had petitioned the township about the traffic situation (speeding – and they have not heard anything from the Township) and now adding more traffic is of great concern 5) do not eliminate dogs on a leash from the rest of the park 6) walking trails 7) like what you have done including the attention to environmental issues.

Rick Tetzlaff, Ferguson Township – Many of the issues they discussed in their group has already been discussed. 1) great planning and foresight 2) place for a multi-use dome that could be used for many sports 3) Frisbee golf – Ultimate Frisbee 4) would the park be gated (just a general question) 5) Softball should be developed – Hess Field 14 tournaments scheduled between May 1 and August – could start to generate revenue 6) would you consider batting cages for people who play softball. 7) more than one sand volleyball court 8) if the park is used for softball tournament play it would need fences 9) did you take into account the sun in positioning the home plate (yes they have) 10) Any thought to moving the playground, restrooms, and concession to the free space and doing a wagon wheel of the fields to give more access 11) bike path to connect Nittany View Park.

Carol Oliver, Lemont - 1) like the idea of massing facilities 2) like natural looking 3) near a major intersection 4) walking trails 5) didn’t think tennis would do well on such a windy site – major need of tennis is six courts that are lighted 6) when talking about sports, tennis was not mentioned. There is a tennis association now in the area and they would like to be included in the discussions. Mr. Pashek explained why there are not more tennis courts. 7) would like to see both parks done almost at the same time 8) synthetic surface fields would allow the fields to be used all year 9) thinks that lights fit in Oak Hall – a need for lights for tennis – tennis played from age 5 – 90 10) with a tennis facility you can have it be the welcome center and cut down problems with vandalism of the bathrooms.

There was a person who indicated that there are lighted courts in the area but you have to be a member to play on these courts and that membership is very expensive.

Sue Matalavage, Patton Township – 1) thinks that the Whitehall Park is more suited to what is needed right now – should be moved to the front 2) concern about the road at Oak Hall is narrow but also want narrow to keep speeders down, suggest a posted speed limit also signs that there are bikers 3) no lights 4) trail should come around and connect behind the parking lot – it does not connect and didn’t want people to go through the parking lot.

Mr. Woodhead responded to a question about why Oak Hall planning is ahead of the Whitehall Road planning? He said it was because the Oak Hall site was purchased in 2005 and the Master Site Planning grant approved in late-2006. The Whitehall Road site was purchased in May 2008 and that Master Site Planning grant was approved in late-2008.

Mr. Pashek thanked everyone for their input and then provided the next steps. He indicated they will take all these ideas and will massage the draft Master Site Plan. These comments and any changes to the Master Site Plan will be presented to the Study Committee in the next several months and talk about what trade-offs there are for Oak Hall. Talk about Whitehall Road parkland. Then a report will be sent to DCNR. After their approval, late spring, there will be another public meeting to present the ideas, costs, and phasing.

Mr. Jones reminded everyone that decisions will have to be made and not everyone will get what they want. The committee responsible for the project will be deciding the details of the park.

Funding assistance to acquire the regional parklands and to prepare the Master Site Plans has been provided by the five participating municipalities and by a grant from PA DCNR "Community Conservation Partnership Program.”

 APPENDIX A – Suggestions Provided by Each Group (Compiled)
√ = mentioned by more than one group

What do you like about the plan?

Sensitive Planning
Core area
Softball good
Path System  √√√
Environmental Sensitivity  √
Protect views of Mt. Nittany
Natural areas
Softball fields with fences
Concentration of Softball
No lights
Spatial “Rooms” √√

What could be improved?

Will the restrooms be adequate?
More shelters?
Use porous pavement
Consider an amphitheatre
More Basketball courts
Paths could also be used for x-country skiing
Uses for all seasons
Consider the Linden Hall Road path system
Ice rink
Softball fields need outfield fences? (Yes for adults)
More natural areas
Bike connection
Model Airplane facilities
Whitehall Road trail connections (at that site)
Buffer the adjoining Everhart agricultural property
No (avoid) field / court lights
Traffic controls  √
A Multi-use Dome
Frisbee Golf
Batting cages
More volleyball
Arrangement of softball access / other concessions / onside
Tennis needs (6 courts)
Include the local tennis organization in planning
Synthetic fields
Lighted tennis courts
Route the trails to avoid the parking areas
Indoor Tennis

Other Input

Gating of park entrance
Indoor facility – needed in the area but not necessarily at these parks

What should be developed first?

Softball fields (Oak Hall) √
Whitehall Road parkland √
Develop both parks simultaneously

The CRPR Authority is a publicly-funded, municipal agency serving 5 municipalities since 1966. The Authority also maintains 501c3 status.
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The Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority
2643 Gateway Drive #1, State College, PA. USA 16801   (814)231-3071   Fax 814.235.7832