With requests exceeding available funding, a Luzerne County Council committee met Wednesday to come up with a recommendation for the county’s Act 13 natural-gas recreation grant awards.
Council had earmarked $25,000 to provide grants of up to $5,000 to municipalities and other entities. Ten applicants requested a combined $48,200.
After presenting their rankings, the committee members — council members Jane Walsh Waitkus, Patrick Bilbow, Harry Haas and Matthew Vough — agreed to ask the full council to approve these allocations:
• Wyoming Valley Challenger Baseball — $5,000 for its $20,000 project to start fixing up a field at Wilkes-Barre’s Bog Recreational Complex.
The organization serves children with disabilities and had been playing on borrowed fields rarely accessible to the disabled. The city-provided field will allow a permanent home for the program, although work is needed to make it usable and accessible.
This phase of the project would help pave, fix dugouts and make changes to the field house and bathroom. The organization has obtained $15,000 in donations for the work.
• West Hazleton — $5,000 for a $70,000 project to replace equipment at the Cindy Street Playground.
The decades-old park was closed because the equipment does not meet current safety standards and is inaccessible to the disabled. In addition to removal of old equipment, the project will include new rides and a parking stall, ramp and pathway accessible to those with disabilities.
The borough has received a $50,000 state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant that requires a $20,000 local match that would be covered by the borough, county allocation and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
• Mountaintop Area Little League — $5,000 for a $220,000 project to add lights and a pavilion at its field on Alberdeen Road in Wright Township.
The amenities will allow the complex to host tournaments and additional games, reducing the need for children to travel outside the area to obtain baseball and softball experience. Tournaments also would attract outside teams, increasing revenue for local businesses, the organization said.
The league serves children ages 4 to 16 from Nuangola and the townships of Fairview, Wright, Rice, Dorrance, Hollenback and Slocum.
The organization also is seeking a $205,000 Local Share Account grant and plans to obtain the additional $10,000 from fundraising.
• Jackson Township — $5,000 toward a $400,000 project to rehabilitate the township’s only recreational facility.
This phase of work will include: new restroom facilities; an additional playground for children ages 2 to 5; outdoor cooking grills in the pavilion area; walking path repaving; construction of a path to the pavilion that is accessible to the disabled; drainage work; and improvements at a memorial section.
The project also will be funded by $145,000 from the township, a $200,000 DCNR grant and $50,000 in CDBG funds.
• Dupont — $3,200 to match the borough’s $3,200 contribution to improve its only recreational facility, which is heavily used.
The project would include the replacement of park pavilion roof shingles and the concession stand sink, painting inside the pavilion and kitchen area, and a new parent/child swing in the playground section.
At least two community organizations also are contributing funds to complete the project.
• The nonprofit Anthracite Trolleys Inc. — $1,800 toward its $30,000 first-phase project to extract Wilkes-Barre’s last-known trolley car from a Franklin Township property and transport it to The Baut Studios Inc. in Swoyersville for storage and future restoration.
Most cars were sold for scrap when Wilkes-Barre’s trolley system dissolved in 1950, but this one was used to build a cottage.
More than $10,000 has been raised for the project to date, and additional fundraising is ongoing. The car must be removed from the cottage foundation by crane by the end of the year under the nonprofit’s deal with the property owner.
The nonprofit had requested $5,000.
Committee members stressed they believe all projects are worthwhile and noted two applicants that did not make their cut — White Haven and Wright Township — had received past county Act 13 funding for other projects.
The other applicants, according to a review of the committee’s 206-page agenda posted at www.luzernecounty.org:
• Kingston Township sought $5,000 toward a $32,025 project to replace the tennis court fence at the Center Street Park, which is a “recreational hub” and the township’s only municipal-owned park.
The existing fence is rusted and in poor condition. A section of the top rail was damaged from a tree that fell during a severe wind storm, creating a safety concern and hampering use of a section of the court.
Installation of a new 10-foot, vinyl coated fence is set for completion in September. The township would provide the remaining $27,025 in funding.
• Slocum Township requested $5,000 for an $11,500 project to add a playground section geared for children up to 5 at the municipal park.
The park provides opportunities for older children and adults but is lacking attractions for this age group, according to the township, which will provide $6,500 for the project.
• White Haven sought $5,000 toward a $300,600 project to create the “Rail Yard Park” adjacent to the White Haven Area Community Library & Visitor Center on Towanda Street.
The borough has no user-friendly, outdoor gathering space for thousands of bikers and hikers who pass through annually due to the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor trail, the application said.
The park also would provide a safe access link between Main Street, the Black Diamond D&L trail head, a DCNR parking area and the library/visitor center, which is housed in a former Lehigh Valley Railroad engine house. It will include: fencing along an active rail line; outdoor picnic and game tables; native landscaping; lighting; amenities for bikers; walkways and staging/activity areas accessible to the disabled; and directional and educational signs that help interpret the borough’s history as a railroad and canal-based economic center.
The project also would be covered by a $125,600 state grant, $75,000 from the library/visitor center and other funding.
• Wright Township requested $5,000 toward a $10,000 project to resurface the lower tennis courts at the Wright Township Municipal Park.
The project will repair major cracks and seal, repaint and reline the damaged surface. The courts are heavily used by Mountain Top area residents and Crestwood School District students.
The nonprofit Wright Recreation & Environmental Inc. has pledged $4,690 for the project, with the township contributing in-kind services.
The nonprofit Anthracite Trolleys Inc. may receive $1,800 in Luzerne County natural-gas recreation funding to help remove Wilkes-Barre’s last-known trolley car from this Franklin Township cottage structure so the trolley can be restored.