State College

Extra funds needed for Oak Hall Park project

Oak Hall Regional Park is scheduled to open this spring.
Oak Hall Regional Park is scheduled to open this spring. CDT photo

Last summer, it seemed whenever the skies opened it spelled trouble for the Oak Hall Regional Park project.

Storms in the months of June and July 2014 caused severe flooding in the park, which was under construction at the time. Stormwater control efforts were not enough to contain the downpours, causing water and debris to flow down the steep entrance road to the park and onto adjoining roads and properties.

Water mitigation efforts were beefed up, resulting in new basins, swales and piping to keep rainfall from escaping park boundaries.

The stormwater controls have been completed, but now comes the bill.

In a move approved by the Council of Governments General Forum, the 2015 regional parks capital budget has been amended to appropriate $125,000 from the budget to the Oak Hall project, according to COG Executive Director Jim Steff.

When the storms hit, Parks and Recreation Director Ron Woodhead said, the park wasn’t able to handle the volume and the runoff. Extra safety measures and fortification of the existing stormwater efforts will make sure the six detention basins will function like they’re supposed to.

“It could handle Noah’s flood,” he said.

When the park started flooding, the contractor was contacted and asked how it could be fixed, Parks Capital Committee Chairman Jeff Luck said. Additional work was done “above and beyond” what was originally done to stop the flooding.

The $125,000 appropriation is to cover the remainder of the financial obligation to the contractor so COG could take possession of the park, he said.

Construction on the park has been completed, Woodhead said. COG’s job now is to add the finishing touches.

“I’m hopeful for when people use and see the park,” Woodhead said, “what the $3.9 million has done, they’ll say this was worth it because it will always be a park, not something like a shopping center.”

The challenge now, he said, is figuring out where the appropriation money will come from and how to get it out of the park over the next few years.”

Where the money comes from is now up to the COG Finance Committee, Luck said. He couldn’t say if it would be new money or funds shifted from a different budget.

“We were committed to mitigating the rain situation,” he said. “After that, it was a question of covering the cost, finding the least expensive option to the taxpayers to open the park.”

The park is slated to open May 2.