Kids and adults alike both envision a skate park as a needed recreation spot in Ligonier.
Councilwoman Mariah Fisher on Thursday presented Ligonier Borough Council with a preliminary design for a proposed renovation of the tennis courts near Friendship Park that includes a skate park along with new tennis, basketball and pickle ball courts.
Fisher said she has received feedback about creating more recreational opportunities for young people in the borough. She worked with streets supervisor Ron Ross to create the rough draft of the skate park layout.
“I think that this would be something that could be beneficial for our community because it would be great to have a safe space for kids to ride their bikes, ride scooters, ride skateboards. And this would give them that opportunity and I think be a really good use for that space. I think we can all agree that it needs something done in the tennis court area down there. No one uses it as it is, but I would like to see it be used for something that everyone can appreciate and use,” Fisher said.
Max Kriberney, 14, attended the council meeting, along with other local youth and parents to support the idea of building a dedicated area in Ligonier Borough for skateboarding, roller blading and scooters.
“It can really help the community and younger kids really get outside more and get off of electronics. It can also help with fitness and getting them moving,” Kriberney told the Bulletin after the meeting.
More than 275 people have signed an online petition for a skate park, with under half located in Ligonier. Council also heard comments from several folks in the audience in favor of a centralized, easily accessible area.
Resident Terri Johnson, who has four children, pointed out that Ligonier Borough lacks recreational places for older children when they “graduate” out of Friendship Park.
“In the age of technology, I think we need to do everything we can to support any efforts that get kids off some of the machinery for a while and outside. I think the skate park is a great idea,” Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Scott Haines said.
Council will further explore the skate park concept and the status of the potential tennis court revamp at its March 12 meeting.
Over the past year, the Rotary Club of Ligonier has spearheaded efforts to renovate the tennis courts. In early 2019, The EADS Group prepared a preliminary master site plan for what was proposed as the Friendship Recreation Center.
Ligonier Borough has just received the results of a geotechnical investigation of the soil and water beneath the tennis courts, Fisher said.
The results of the underground testing will determine whether the borough can proceed with what is expected to be a seven-figure project. The tennis courts were built atop a former trash site for construction waste and the area has a high groundwater table.
A skate park was one of the topics included in a confidential online survey that junior councilwoman Izabella Wentzell launched in the Ligonier Valley School District, with the approval of the school board on Monday night.
Wentzell plans to glean student perspectives about Ligonier from the survey and share the results with council.
The Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce hopes that a new evening event will attract residents and visitors to the town after hours.
Council unanimously approved a request to launch the “Ligonier Night Market” featuring produce vendors and processors around the Diamond from 5 to 9 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, June through October.
The event would be similar to Antiques on the Diamond, with vendors set up along East and West Main streets, and feature live music on the bandstand and an information booth at Town Hall, according to Ruthie Stewart, the chamber’s events and marketing coordinator.
About 30 to 40 vendors from the Ligonier Country Market are interested in participating and local merchants are also willing to stay open those evenings, Stewart said.
Vendors would be selling wares such as vegetables, honey, syrup, preservatives, cheeses and meats.
“We want to bring those to the Diamond on those Thursday nights allowing for locals and visitors to enjoy the Diamond after dark, spend time shopping and eating,” Stewart said.
The chamber also requested free parking in the Loyalhanna and Lot A metered lots during the night market. Council agreed after a brief discussion, recommending that the chamber give them advance notice of the number of free parking events it wants to host over next year, for budgeting purposes.
“This is what we want to encourage and we want to encourage people to come into town. A few quarters in the meter either way isn’t going to make a lot of difference,” said councilman Jeff Craig.
Officials were not willing, however, to fulfill a request that the borough reimburse the Ice Fest committee for $700 worth of dry ice it purchased to try to preserve the ice sculptures during the annual two-day event in January.
Ice Fest chairwoman Cindy Purnell alleged in a letter that the heated sidewalks around Diamond Park affected the sculptures and asked that the heat be turned off for future events.
Given the significant amount of time that it takes to shut off the boiler system and then reheat the sidewalks, plus pedestrian safety concerns, council did not agree to turn off the sidewalks.
“Maybe next year we can do a little bit better job in planning and helping them, but I for one am not moved to pay for the dry ice,” Craig said.
The Ligonier Valley School District will soon receive more than a hundred “Stop the Bleed” first aid kits courtesy of the valley’s fire departments, mutual aid service and the Ligonier Valley Endowment.
The nonprofit Ligonier Valley Fire Companies led the project to purchase the specialized kits, joined by the nine fire companies within the school district and Mutual Aid Ambulance Service, who each made a financial pledge. The project also received a nearly $10,000 grant from the Ligonier Valley Endowment.
The 118 kits that will soon be ordered should fill every classroom within the school district, said Ligonier Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1 fire chief Corey Blystone.
Council approved a joint resolution authorizing the Ligonier Valley Police Committee to finance and purchase two new vehicles for the police department: a 2020 Ford F-150 truck and a 2020 Ford Explorer.
The total cost of the two vehicles plus accessories is $87,225. They will replace two Ford Explorers that have racked up more than 130,000 miles and are not safe to drive, police chief John Berger said.
The resolution is needed because the original charter consolidating the borough and township police departments does not authorize the police commission to borrow money, Craig explained.
Ligonier Township has already adopted the resolution, Craig said.
The borough has received the final payment application from Darr Construction, the contractor for the Diamond Park Renaissance project, but will hold off on paying the bill until the parks and recreation committee reviews the document.
The corroding steel gutters on the bandstand have now been replaced with new copper ones, Fisher said.
Council has formed a Fort Ligonier Days committee to review Ligonier Borough’s ordinance governing the annual three-day festival, council president Sam St. Clair announced. The three-member committee comprises St. Clair, Fisher and Craig.
The Town Hall committee is in the process of getting bids for a new security system for the building, councilwoman Judy Hoffer reported. Council also authorized Ross to solicit bids for tar and chipping of borough roads later this year.
Council approved a revision to a resolution passed in November concerning the borough’s application for a water and sewer grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to replace a storm sewer on Hazel Alley. The change adds the requested grant amount of $233,954.
The planning and personnel committee will review applications for an open equipment mechanic position with the hopes of hiring someone at the March council meeting, councilman Matt Smith said.
Any Ligonier Borough resident interested in serving on the Ligonier Valley Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee is encouraged to send a letter to the Town Hall office at 120 East Main Street, Ligonier, PA 15658.
Ross thanked the Byers-Tosh American Legion Post No. 267 for donating new American and Prisoner of War flags for Diamond Park, which were installed earlier this week.
Council adjourned Thursday’s meeting into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter at the request of attorney Richard Flickinger, with no action planned afterwards.