On Solid Ground

Photos Courtesy Of Environmental Planning and Design, LLC

Photos Courtesy Of Environmental Planning and Design, LLC

Approximately 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, North Strabane Township is home to one of southwestern Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing communities. But the township’s rapid population growth and pace of development were putting intense demands on existing recreation facilities. Over the course of 3 years, residents and community leaders worked to expand and enhance the recreation system with the development of a 70-acre park. The township’s updated Municipal Park, the keystone of the system, serves all ages and provides access to all abilities. The four-season facility also serves as a central community gathering space while providing active areas for lacrosse, football, soccer, Little League baseball, and fast- and slow-pitch softball, as well as passive spaces for relaxation, walking trails, play spaces, picnicking, fairs, festivals, and socializing.  

Planning

For years, residents used the original Municipal Park to rent pavilions, gather at its playgrounds, take short walks around the park’s peak, and participate in a limited number of sports and athletic practice events. However, because of the park’s topography, the township was discouraged from expanding recreation facilities at the site. Also, the township discovered that an undeveloped area initially slated for recreation space could not be developed due to the location of a utility corridor. The design team then turned its attention to the existing Municipal Park and began the process of transforming the former clay mine into a series of active recreation spaces.   

Transformation

During the removal of a significant hillside, the construction crew found that clay soils required more stabilization than initially thought. Working closely with the landscape architecture team that designed the park, the township determined that fully redesigning that portion of the park would be more cost-effective than stabilizing the clay soils. In other areas without clay, subsurface rock was so hard that utilities had to be trenched together underground rather than in separate trenches—another decision made in consultation with the design team that prevented costly delays. 

Fields

From the outset, the township wanted to host tournaments as well as accommodate local field and practice events. This desire ultimately

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