Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building

The Mt. Lebanon Parks Advisory Board is making the case for a new plan to guide park development, considering that the current one was adopted in 2004.

“That plan was durable and guided decision making for 15 years,” board member Elaine Kramer said at Mt. Lebanon Commission’s Nov. 12 meeting. “Tonight, we ask you to fund a new park master plan, or comprehensive recreation, park and open space plan.”

The board has requested that $80,000 be included in the 2020 municipal operating budget “to create the kind of blueprint that will enable future parks advisory boards and future commissions to make good decisions for the community’s benefit,” Kramer explained.

She spoke on behalf of the board during the public hearing portion of the meeting addressing the municipal manager’s recommended budget, which calls for the real estate tax rate to remain at 4.71 mills and for expenditures to be approximately $34.4 million in expenditures.

The recommended budget, copies of which are available at the municipal building and on Mt. Lebanon’s website, features a list of requested items for expenditures ranked by “service level.” Topped by required debt payments in terms of priority, the list includes 189 items that at this point are above a cutoff line for consideration.

According to the document, a parks master plan ranks at No. 236.

Besides the passage of time since the adoption of the current plan, Kramer provided other reasons for the commission to consider the advisory board’s request.

“We know our region is witnessing more frequent and more severe weather events,” she said. “More communities are reviewing how parks and open spaces are conceived and used in the context of stormwater management, and Mt. Lebanon should be among them.”

Another facet she addressed was the revision of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, six years after the adoption of Mt. Lebanon’s parks plan.

“Can we agree that a new plan is needed for providing equitable access to parks and amenities through universal design?” she said.

She also cited air quality, community health and well-being, and the need for public input with regard to parks.

To help pay for the development of a new plan, Mt. Lebanon might qualify for a matching grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We would find out next year at this time if our application were successful,” Kramer said. “Then the parks plan could potentially be completed in 2021 or 2022.”

The recommended budget does include funding for several capital projects related to parks: $314,000 for the second phase of ADA accessibility improvements at North Meadowcroft, $223,030 for improvements at Robb Hollow, $192,780 for stabilizing 700 feet of banks along a stream in Bird, and $143,200 for ADA-accessible restrooms serving the Dixon and Middle athletic fields at Mt. Lebanon’s Main Park.

The municipal parks system includes almost 200 acres in 11 parks and numerous parklets. Park facilities include five ball fields, eight basketball courts, eight restroom facilities, volleyball and tennis courts, and hiking trails.

Commissioners met for a budget work session prior to the regular Nov. 12 meeting, and additional sessions are scheduled for Nov. 25 and Dec. 5. The vote on adoption of the 2020 budget is scheduled for Dec. 10.

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Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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