Rolling Hills Park

Work progresses on the first phase of Rolling Hills Park, at the site of the former Rolling Hills Country Club off East McMurray Road.

The cost of building a new aquatic center in Peters Township should be known soon.

On Monday, Peters council formally authorized township manager Paul Lauer to seek bids as the next step in the possible construction of a multi-amenity water-based recreational facility at Rolling Hills Park, the first phase of which is in progress off East McMurray Road.

Although the aquatic center, which is expected to cost in excess of $10.2 million, has not yet received the green light from council, township manager Paul Lauer recommended bids be sought.

“Regardless of whether you at this point favor or oppose the aquatic center, the fact of the matter is the township spent a lot of time and effort developing those specifications, and it just makes sense to me that we go out and find what this project actually costs,” he said.

Four of the seven council members – chairman David Ball, James Berquist, Frank Kosir Jr. and Robert Lewis – have supported the aquatic center in various actions and discussions over the past few years. Gary Stiegel Jr., who voted against seeking bids, has joined Monica Merrell and Frank Arcuri in opposing the project.

The township’s 2021 capital improvement program allocates $380,000 for the aquatic center’s design.

“Normally, when a project is called for in the budget and there’s an appropriation provided for it, that we take as an authorization to go out and seek bids,” Lauer said. “But given the nature and scale of this project, I think it’s appropriate that council formally authorize the township manager to seek bids.”

In a related matter on Monday, council approved a 691,529.75 change order to the township’s contract with A. Liberoni Inc., the Plum Borough construction firm that is working on Rolling Hills Park.

The change order calls for Liberoni to make site improvements necessary to develop building pads for the aquatic center and a related parking lot.

“If we go ahead with the aquatic center, you do not want to have two earth-moving contractors out there and attempting to coordinate the work,” Lauer said. “If we’re moving ahead with the center and the idea is that it be open for Memorial Day next year, it is essential that that earthwork begin as soon as it can.”

In the case that council might decide not to proceed with the center, “You would have a large, flat pad that would accommodate a parking lot and pickleball courts, or something like that,” he said.

Mark Zemaitis, township director of engineering, also supported approval of the change order.

“Liberoni has constructed several major projects for Peters Township and they have always performed exceptionally well,” he wrote in a memo to Lauer. “Liberoni was the low bidder on the park project by a substantial margin, and their cost proposal for the aquatics center earthwork is very competitive.”

Multimedia Reporter

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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