The “park” portion of Bethel Park’s name certainly is appropriate.
Thirteen municipal recreation areas are peppered throughout the 11.7 square miles of Bethel Park, and they constantly receive the attention of local officials with regard to maintenance and improvements.
The latest focus is on Millennium Park, where work will begin within the next few weeks on converting an all-purpose field to a baseball-specific field with a synthetic turf infield.
“There will be a new playground going in there, as well, and a new trail around the perimeter of that field, so that people can walk while their kids are practicing,” said Stacey Graf, municipal director of engineering. “It will take most of the summer to get that work done.”
Also included is the conversion of a public works shed into a concession stand and improvements to the adjacent restrooms.
As for the baseball field, it will be configured for PONY Baseball and Softball’s Bronco League specifications, for players ages 11 and 12. Those include a pitching distance of 50 feet, bases 70 feet apart and home run distances with a maximum of 275 feet.
Bethel Park received a $268,000 grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Graf reported, toward an overall project cost of about $950,000.
Other municipal parks receiving facelifts include Oak Tree and Birch Tree, sites of large-scale stormwater management projects.
“They’ll be getting their final touches this summer with new playgrounds,” Graf said.
At the Park Avenue recreational area, next to the Bethel Park Community Center, improvements are planned for 2022.
The existing baseball field is to be converted to a splash pad, and a new grandstand put in place for the football field. Serving both the areas will be a restroom featuring two levels, to accommodate the site’s topography.
Upgrades also include a new playground and three pavilions with plenty of green space between.
“We really are trying to make it a destination site,” Graf said, also noting its proximity to Bethel Park Historical Society’s Schoolhouse Arts and History Center on South Park Road.
The municipality has been awarded two state grants for the Park Avenue project: $750,000 from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital, managed by the Office of the Budget, and $200,000 in Gaming Economic Development Fund money.
Graf said the municipality is applying for grants for next year as part of efforts to continue to keep up with the needs of the park system.