Con­sul­tant to plan park ex­pan­sion, com­mit­tee com­ing later this month

Panel will gather pub­lic feed­back about how to in­cor­po­rate new par­cel into park

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Dan Sokil dsokil@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @dan­sokil on Twit­ter

HAT­FIELD TWP. >> A con­sul­tant is now on board, and 2017 should bring sig­nif­i­cant progress in plans for the ex­pan­sion of Cle­mens Park.

Hat­field’s of­fi­cials an­nounced Wed­nes­day the plan­ner they’ve cho­sen to help guide a pub­lic process to plan the park ex­pan­sion.

“At this point, the com­mit­tee is rec­om­mend­ing that the com­mis­sion­ers con­sider ap­point­ing Si­mone Collins to per­form the mas­ter site plan,” said com­mis­sioner Laura Thomas.

Ex­pand­ing Cle­mens Park has been on Hat­field’s to-do list since early 2015, when the town­ship be­gan the process of ac­quir­ing a 4.8-acre par­cel di­rectly ad­ja­cent to the 11-acre park from the Nolen fam­ily. Af­ter the prop­erty was for­mally ac­quired by the town­ship, Hat­field ap­plied for, and re­ceived, $20,000 in plan­ning grant funds from the state Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

A lo­cal match of the same amount has been pro­vided by Cle­mens Food Group, and last fall Thomas said an in­ter­nal com­mit­tee of she, town­ship Man­ager Aaron Bi­bro, and sev­eral parks board mem­bers and res­i­dents were in­ter­view­ing con­sul­tants to steer that ef­fort. Nine firms ap­plied, four were in­ter­viewed in De­cem­ber, and one has now been cho­sen.

They’ve cho­sen plan­ner Peter Si­mone of Nor­ris­town-based Si­mone Collins Land­scape Ar­chi­tec­ture, Thomas said Wed­nes­day, be­cause he and his firm have worked on sev­eral prior town­ship projects, in­clud­ing the Hat­field Green­ways and Trails Net­work Mas­ter Plan in 2009 that was also vetted and ap­proved by DCNR. Sev­eral town­ship res­i­dents have ex­pressed in­ter­est in serv­ing on a pub­lic com­mit­tee that will de­velop the plan for the park ex­pan­sion, Thomas said, and those names will be an­nounced at the com­mis­sion­ers’ Jan. 25 meet­ing when vol­un­teers are ap­pointed for new terms, and when a con­tract with the con­sul­tant is for­mally ap­proved.

“Once the board is ap­pointed at our reg­u­lar meet­ing, the process can be­gin,” Thomas said.

All of that pub­lic com­mit­tee’s meet­ings will be pub­licly ad­ver­tised, and open to any­one who wants to share feed­back, Thomas said. Sur­veys will be sent out to res­i­dents near the park, ask­ing what they’d like to see there, and res­i­dents will also be asked to share their thoughts on­line via the town­ship’s web­site.

“The goal is to ex­pand the park based on feed­back from the com­mu­nity, rather than just a hand­ful of peo­ple,” she said.

The study is es­ti­mated to cost $46,000, ac­cord­ing to Bi­bro, and the costs will be cov­ered by the state grant money, the do­na­tion from the Cle­mens Food Group, and any ex­cess by town­ship funds.

Sev­eral other parks-re­lated events are in the works, in­clud­ing an ex­panded “Fire and Ice Fes­ti­val” at the Hat­field Aquatic Cen­ter from 2 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 21. The Fire and Ice Fes­ti­val will be an ex­panded ver­sion of pre­vi­ous win­ter events, when visi­tors can jump into the pool at the Aquatic Cen­ter, then en­joy hot bev­er­ages and a chili cook off. This year’s event will fea­ture a bon­fire and a pre­sen­ta­tion by a lo­cal ice sculp­tor, along with games, crafts, and sev­eral food trucks, and pro­ceeds from those who do­nate at the event will be do­nated to Manna on Main Street.

Sea­son passes for the Hat­field Aquatic Cen­ter are now avail­able for pur­chase, Thomas said, with a 10 per­cent dis­count for those who buy be­fore March 3, and a 5 per­cent dis­count for buy­ing by May 5. Thanks to new soft­ware, passes can now be pur­chased on­line with no con­ve­nience fees, or in per­son at the town­ship mu­nic­i­pal build­ing dur­ing nor­mal of­fice hours, ac­cord­ing to Thomas.

Other win­ter pro­grams in the works in­clude a se­ries of dance-themed fit­ness classes start­ing Jan. 26, in­door pick­le­ball lessons through the end of Jan­uary, and bus trips to see sev­eral Broad­way mu­si­cals in New York in the com­ing months.

Hat­field’s com­mis­sion­ers next meet at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing, 1950 School Road.

For more about the town­ship and its up­com­ing events visit www.Hat­field­Town­ or fol­low @ Hat­field PA on Twit­ter, and for more on the Aquatic Cen­ter visit www.Swimhat­ or fol­low @SwimHat­field on Twit­ter.

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