Meeting for the first time at the Unity Township Municipal Complex, the newly expanded Greater Latrobe Park and Recreation Commission set to brainstorming recreational programs that will utilize the complex’s resources.
A second location for the organization’s Summer Day Camp is planned, and the large pond at the Unity Township facility had commissioners and parks and rec director Craig Shevchik thinking of a fishing derby and kayaking options.
Shevchik said he plans on reaching out to Unity Township and Youngstown residents to seek community input on the programs they’d like to see hosted in their communities.
The recreational organization merger between the City of Latrobe, Unity Township, the Greater Latrobe School District and Youngstown Borough, was finalized last month with a 10-year agreement to reunite the Latrobe-GLSD Parks and Recreation Commission and Unity Township, which had worked as separate recreation entities since the end of 2014, when the township’s agreement as part of the regional recreational commission expired.
With the merger and planned expansion of programs, the organization’s staffing needs are expected to increase, Shevchik said. Finding qualified and interested applicants has long been a struggle for the parks and rec program, though.
“We’re always struggling for employees, even on the maintenance side,” Commission chairman Tom Long said. “Craig shared with us that we had a maintenance position for summer help and not one person applied for it.”
Long said Shevchik and the organization’s personnel committee will review staffing needs and then coordinate with the financial committee regarding budgetary implications and starting wages for any new positions.
Under the new partnership, according to township solicitor Gary Falatovich, Unity Township will contribute $100,000 per year to the joint commission; the school district will provide roughly $74,000, and Latrobe will pay $38,000.
Shevchik said Latrobe and Unity Township residents would pay the same flat fee for recreational programs under the proposed agreement, Prior to the new agreement, Unity Township residents previously paid a slightly higher rate than Latrobe residents for such offerings.
Also Thursday, the commission heard from Shevchik that the batting cage at Legion-Keener Park is up and in use. Both the Latrobe Little League and the Latrobe American Legion baseball programs have been granted access to the batting cages, while others looking to practice in the cages
New player benches have also been installed at the “LK 1” field at Legion-Keener, part of the donation from Pirates Charities following a fire this spring that destroyed a Latrobe Little League storage shed full of baseball equipment at the field.
New fencing and a gate, at a cost of $4,200 via Allegheny Fence, is expected to be installed soon at Cardinal Park. The fencing is needed, Shevchik noted, because vehicles routinely race and perform “donuts” at the park, kicking up gravel into the grass. The gate will be locked each evening and unlocked each morning to allow access to the park, he said.
The organization has been reviewing final punchlist items from the sand volleyball court and First Ward Park and Playground projects to close out the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant requirements for the work.
The commission on Thursday also approved a new set of simplified “GL” logos for the organization, with one version primarily orange and the other primarily black.
During his report on facilities and programs, Shevchik told the commission that the issue of park-goers in Latrobe bringing canine companions to parks and playgrounds where they’re not permitted has been a persistent problem.
He reiterated that dogs are not permitted at any of the Greater Latrobe Park and Recreation parks or facilities with the exceptions of Creekside Park and the Lincoln Avenue Trail. Visitors to Creekside Park and Lincoln Avenue Trail must keep their dogs leashed, he added.
The commission also discussed compiling a newsletter of sorts to be distributed by email and shared on the organization’s Facebook page as a way to drum up community involvement in programs, attract applicants to job openings and hopefully build the organization’s volunteer base.