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If the price is right, Quakertown may open new park

By Emily Thiel, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 26 2013 09:52:40 AM CST
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. -

The Borough of Quakertown is working on providing a new park for residents located at Fourth and Mill streets with help from Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

The borough is applying for a grant from DCNR in the amount of $250,000, but with the application, must commit to funding the additional monies for the park not included in the grant in order to be eligible. The total amount of the park project is estimated to be in-between $1.4 - $1.5 million. DCNR wants a commitment that the remaining total cost for the project will be there before they grant Quakertown with funds.

Council has supported the park in the past with resolutions in 2006, 2010, and 2011 by allowing staff to peruse a DCNR grant.

Phase One of the park, set to begin in 2013, will be supported by funds received from the Bucks County Open Space in the amount of $332,000 and around $80,000 from pledges raised from the sesquicentennial. Phase One includes a basic walking trail that starts at 4th Street, storm water management, a water feature, some infrastructure, parking lot, to some extent, and electric utility, to some extent.

Phase Two will include an amphitheater, additional lighting, public restrooms, concession building and additional extension of the walking trails. Phase Two would cost around $550,000.

The park committee for the Borough is working on gaining additional funds through donations to help in funding the park, both through private and public sources. If funding is not raised in the full amount, the Borough is responsible for providing the park funding from the general budget.

Initially when council spoke about funding the park, it was to be done without using general fund dollars. McElree states that the borough will be successful in raising the necessary monetary amounts.

"Personally, I think it's a challenge, but it's going to be successful," said Borough Manager Scott C. McElree. To make up for the difference in funding, McElree suggested people can buy a park bench, and plaque, and Quakertown is still pursuing naming rights for the park. Using local labor also goes towards the match amount from the Borough. "If we can't get the funding we're looking for, we don't have to take the grant money," McElree stated.

The application for the DCNR grant must be submitted by April 1. If everything goes as planned, the park is scheduled to be ready in 2015. Borough Council will be voting on the issue at their March 6 meeting, deciding whether or not to commit to DCNR in funding the remaining balance of the park.