Work on Thompson Hill boat launch, playground at Cross Creek to begin soon

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Frustrated Cross Creek County Park users may think that talk of a second boat launch on the Route 844 side wasn’t worth a hill of beans, but there should be much more than beans to show for it by the end of this year.


The county commissioners are expected this morning to award a $1.6 million contract to General Industries, Charleroi, to construct the park’s second boat launch, repave a road, pave a parking lot and build rest rooms and a shelter on the West Middletown side of the lake.


The development has been discussed for at least four years, and while the design and permitting process has taken place largely behind the scenes, frustration bubbled up last month at a Washington County Planning Commission open house on a strategic plan for county parks when a Hopewell Township resident complained that Mingo Creek County Park in Nottingham Township has seen many improvements, such as an observatory, a walking trail and an off-leash dog park, while Cross Creek has languished.


“I get frustrated, so I’m sure they do, too,” planning commission Director Lisa Cessna said Wednesday. “It’s just unfortunate that things take a significant period of time. Mingo took a long time to get ready to go to construction.


“They’re very different parks with different uses. We try to appeal to the nature of the park at Cross Creek or Mingo or Ten Mile.”


Since September 2010, the commissioners have paid $75,600 to Civil Environmental Consultants Inc. for the design of the development, completion of a wetland and stream delineation report for the Department of Environmental Protection and to obtain a permit for excavation.


The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources gave the county $320,857 in state taxpayers’ money for the Thompson Hill project with the requirement that it be spent by Dec. 31, 2015. The remainder of the project will be paid through oil and gas revenues generated from county-owned properties.


“We have a six-month construction period in the contract,” Cessna said. “It usually takes a few weeks before a notice to proceed is issued.”


The contract with General Industries does not include installation of playground equipment, which the county plans to perform in-house.


“It will be completely different from any of the playgrounds we’ve ever built,” Cessna said. “I think it’s going to be our biggest playground, actually. It’s definitely bigger than Chapel Hill in Mingo. It’s going to be awesome. It’s a woodland theme.”


The county is purchasing the playground equipment through a state cooperative contract from Jeffrey Associates of Indianola, Allegheny County, which is to provide a person to guide the assembly of equipment sold by Playworld Systems Inc. of Lewisburg, Union County.


Range Resources, which has Marcellus Shale wells within Cross Creek Park, intends to construct a three-mile loop trail that will connect to the parking lot for the proposed picnic shelter and playground.


In another matter related to Washington County recreation, the commissioners also are expected to take action to stabilize the Midway tunnel beneath the Panhandle Trail at a cost of about $58,000.


“There’s stone falling from the arch,” Cessna said. “They need to go in and scale off any loose material, and they’re going to secure with wire mesh any debris that falls until we can engineer a long-term liner solution for the tunnel.”


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