Area residents got only a small taste of what North Strabane Township’s new $9 million park had to offer when it opened to the public last year.
This year, the sprawling 80-acre park will provide visitors with more than they could ever have expected, according to Greg Sulc, director of the township’s park and recreation department.
Sulc said the park was a five-year endeavor by the township supervisors, who had the vision of offering not only township residents but those living in the region a state-of-the-art recreation venue.
“It’s like going through the (Fort Pitt) tunnels for the first time” and seeing the Pittsburgh skyline, Sulc said. “It’s an awe factor.”
Built entirely with money from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, the park that sits high on a hill behind the municipal building off Route 519 has a lot more to offer than green grass and blue skies.
There is an artificial-turf lighted football field lined with stainless steel bleachers, two tennis courts, four baseball fields, a soccer field, and three large pavilions and two medium pavilions.
There is an abundance of picnic tables, two playground areas and a concession stand that will be open for lunch and events, offering a wide selection of items including steak sandwiches and salads.
Sulc, who served on the township planning commission for 16 years and as township supervisor for eight years, said North Strabane is and always has been a wonderful community but had “one of the main elements” missing.
That’s no longer the case, said Sulc, who runs the department on a $500,000 budget with only one full-time employee. He admits, however, he’s going to rely heavily on a seasonal crew of 15 to 20 part-time employees who will maintain the park and oversee a heavy entertainment and activity schedule.
The township will again offer traditional events such as the Easter Egg Hunt March 23, the North Strabane Township 5K Run & Walk May 27 and North Strabane Township Community Day June 22.
Sulc said, however, it’s the new events at the park that promise to ramp up the enjoyment of the facility.
For example, he said there will be movie nights June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18 at which people can relax on the baseball field and watch a movie on a big, inflatable screen. Then there’s Touch-A-Truck July 20, featuring 20 to 30 trucks of all sorts and sizes, and the Washington Wine, Jazz and Pops Festival Aug. 3 and 4.
“We’re also looking at having an Italian festival and an animal fundraiser this year,” Sulc said.
Another new event that Sulc is especially excited about is Camp Voyager, a 10-week program offered through a partnership between the township and South Hills YMCA.
The camp is open to children ages 6 to 12 at a cost of $165 a week. It will be held at the park from June 10 to Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will be offered.
Activities will include arts and crafts, sports, games, field trips and swimming. Campers also will be treated to special visitors, including the Wild Things mascot and players.
“We’re very excited,” said Sulc. “We’re just waiting for the weather to break to begin preparing for the season.”
A list of all parks and recreation events is available at the township building, online at www.northstrabanetwp.com or check out North Strabane Parks & Recreation on Facebook. For information about Camp Voyager, contact Dan Sloan at email@example.com or 412-833-5600.