When the Tri-Municipal Park broke ground last August, community members did not have much to look at. But with phase one of the project almost 100% complete, the 165-acre park is starting to take form with the addition of a walking trail and two athletic fields.
A collaboration between Gregg and Potter townships and Centre Hall Borough began in 2007 with one goal in mind: to create a multi-purpose recreational space that would benefit Penns Valley.
In 2007, the municipalities purchased the land in Potters Mills from Penn State, after receiving $315,778 in funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, $215,778 from a PennVest grant and a $107,891 loan.
On Aug. 11, 2018, construction began.
“There were so many hurdles just to get our feet off the ground,” Tri-Municipal Park Inc. Chairman Joel Myers said, reflecting on the years it took for board to obtain legal permission to begin construction.
Almost one year later, a handicap accessible, one-mile walking trail runs around two freshly-seeded athletic fields that will be ready for use next fall.
In the future, the park board would like to construct a pavilion, restrooms and additional athletic fields to be used for softball, baseball, soccer and flag football.
While the board recognizes that the Penns Valley School District will seek use of the athletic complexes, Myers said the park is meant to benefit Penns Valley as a community.
“We do want to meet the needs of the community (and) of the school,” Myers said. “Even though it’s these three municipalities, this park is really there for Penns Valley and to work with the school district.”
While the Penns Valley School District does not have official plans for how it will utilize the park’s facilities, Myers said sporting tournaments may be held on the park grounds when it opens.
In order for the park to be successful, the board cannot limit who has access to its facilities or its social, athletic and educational components, Myers said.
In addition to active and recreational features, the Tri-Municipal Park will incorporate a rain garden, orchard, limestone meadow and a possible orchard into its landscape.
Focusing on different types of vegetation and natural resources already present at the site, Myers said there is much to be learned at the park as it offers “something for everybody.”
Russell Shuey, treasurer, said the park has partnered with the Centre County Library to build a storyboard that wraps around the walking trail. Every 40 paces, a board with a children’s story will be displayed in an attempt to entertain kids.
While the park board has big plans in mind for what’s to come, none of their dreams will come true if they are unable to secure adequate funding.
Last year, the Tri-Municipal Park, Inc. became a certified nonprofit in order to oversee and direct finances for long term plans. The board is made up of nine members who are appointed by each municipality but do not have to be elected officials.
For feedback, Shuey surveyed community members on Facebook to find out what others would like to see built at the park because the board does not want to dictate every project idea. Some responses included the addition of a water source for bicyclists and a dog park.
“We’d like to have a board of 100 people that care, not just nine of us. It’d be nice to have as much community involvement as possible,” Shuey said. “....Too many times you have a board that acts as the community. You tell us what you want. We’ll try to find a way to make it happen.”
Later this summer or early fall, the board is looking to host an event where community members can visit the park and its new features.