On Solid Ground

The township's desire to host tournaments made the decision easy to choose synthetic-turf fields.

The township’s desire to host tournaments made the decision easy to choose synthetic-turf fields.

influenced the choice to use synthetic rather than natural fields. The choice of a synthetic field has allowed for longer playing seasons and more frequent use. Month after month, the game schedules outpace what would have been possible with natural fields.  

Centralized Amenities

To accommodate both tournaments and community use, more than 400 parking spaces were required. Rather than distribute them throughout the site, all parking was centralized to minimize the visual effects as well as access roads. The parking area utilizes best-management practices for stormwater infiltration zones using constructed bioswales and innovative trench design. The park’s concession/café area has also become a place to see and be seen in the neighborhood, especially because of its placement near the baseball fields and the playground spaces. 

Pavilion Space

Pavilions in the park were specifically decentralized and dispersed, but most are close enough to share facilities like bathrooms, while remaining far enough apart that separate events do not spill into adjoining spaces. It is no problem to have a corporate event with more than 200 people at one pavilion and a small birthday party at another pavilion. Evidence of the siting strategy’s success is in the numbers: the pavilions are almost fully booked, providing income to support the township’s overall parks and recreation activities.  

Partners For Implementation

Partnering with public, private, and non-profit organizations throughout the design and implementation process has strengthened the park’s planning as well as the reality of its implementation. The township’s leaders agreed to allocate $2 million in funding for the park’s Phase 1 construction: geo-technical investigation, survey verification, site preparation, bulk grading, and stormwater-management implementation. To build on the township’s Phase 1 funding commitment, grant monies were sought to supplement a portion of Phase 2 improvements, which included construction of two regulation-size athletic fields, a pavilion, trails, playground equipment, and vegetative plantings. By the 2012 opening, the cost of the improvements came to $8 million. 

Essential Elements

Improvements at Municipal Park were the result of the township’s proactive planning efforts; its design is a model of success that can be achieved when a community commits to include resident and regional stakeholder cooperation. The municipality worked closely with the design and planning team from early conceptualization through construction. Challenges were met with careful consideration to maximize opportunities and keep costs under control.  

Andrew Schwartz, RLA, AICP, LEED AP, is a landscape architect, planner, and the managing principal at Environmental Planning and Design, LLC in Pittsburgh, Penn. Reach him at epd@epd-pgh.com

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