In a unanimous vote, the Board of Supervisors approved the master plan for the proposed Nittany Valley Sports Centre to be located at the intersection of Bernel Road and Fox Hill Road.
The vote Wednesday followed a public hearing that saw a few residents voicing their concerns for the project with a particular focus on the potential traffic problems.
According to Mark Torretti, of PennTerra Engineering, the total plan includes several phases. The first phase of construction will see the primary facility his client wants for the property. This includes an indoor sports facility with fields and a gymnastics school, and room for concessions and office spaces.
More than 300 parking spaces will accompany the facility, he said, with rain gardens and a basin for stormwater management.
Future phases include expansion of the indoor facility, additional parking, multipurpose sports fields, a hotel and a private secondary school, he said. These phases are not slated to begin for several years.
Traffic concerns were raised by the board as far back as October, when supervisors indicated that a turn lane may be in order. The unusual nature of the intersection was also brought into question, as traffic heading west from University Park Airport faces a stop sign, while opposing traffic curves north with no stop.
There are planned entrances along both roads, Torretti said. He verified that a state Department of Transportation traffic study is planned as part of the first phase and must be completed as part of the land development plan.
PennDOT will model traffic based on peak traffic hours, township Manager Doug Erickson said. The model typically doesn’t include anticipated heavy traffic days, like Penn State football weekends.
According to Torretti, traffic around similar facilities will be taken into consideration when developing the model.
Township resident Dan Marple, who lives near the intersection of Bernel and Fox Hill, said Fox Hill faces a potential traffic backup issue with no turn lane leading into the complex. He also urged the board to take football game days into consideration, saying designing for only average days and not peak days is bad planning
“I’m an engineer,” he said. “If you design a tank to hold an average, and you get an overflow day, you’re going to overflow the tank.”
Township resident Scott Miller said he supports the complex and was happy to see a recreational area being put in instead of more apartments. He also urged the board to consider changes to the road, saying while there have been no fatalities at the intersection itself, some have occurred farther up the road.
“After something is built, it’s harder to fix it,” he said.
Erickson said PennDOT will complete the study and come up with a set of suggestions to correct any issues that are found.
Typically, he said, problems are defined as a certain level of congestion. Roads are graded on a scale from A to F, with A being the best. If a road is rated as C or sometimes lower, it can still be considered acceptable.
With approval of the master plan, the project moves to a land development plan phase. According to Torretti, the first phase of construction on the complex is expected to begin in the fall.