By Abbey Sullivan
Crafton council members were divided over whether to pursue a matching grant for their ongoing Master Parks Plan when a vote was called March 24.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant, due April 6, would require Crafton Borough to contribute $250,000. The Master Parks Plan was created with public input and lays out a slate of intended improvements to parks and public properties throughout the borough. Details can be found in the “Crafton Courier” newsletter and on the borough’s website.
Andrew Schwartz of Environmental Planning and Design, who is the consultant for the park plan, outlined final determinations from the project’s steering committee to council.
He said the plan extends for 15 to 20 years and includes both short- and long-term recommendations for Crafton, Linwood and Noble parks, Clearview Trail, and creekside and public works properties. Areas of great interest from the steering committee include park accessibility, safety, maintenance, improved restrooms, nature trails and playgrounds.
Schwartz outlined what the steering committee identified as “essential improvements” at Linwood and Noble parks. The master site plan recommended these improvements be made first using the hoped-for grant money.
Following a public input period, Schwartz said, the draft Master Site Development Plan will be submitted for council acceptance in conjunction with the DCNR grant. The DCNR will work with Crafton to pursue the areas of interest described in the Master Site Development Plan.
After the presentation, council members disputed the details of the plan moving forward, including the speed of the Master Site Development Plan and its areas of immediate interest.
A report given by Councilor Kirsten Compitello sparked broader debate from officials after she said she planned to move forward imminently with the grant application.
Councilor Vince Ridilla said he was unaware the council had decided to pursue these areas of “essential interest.” Councilor Justin Marks agreed with Ridilla and worried that council was rushing a decision.
Both Compitello and Mayor Colleta Perry disputed this, saying this decision had been in the works for several weeks now.
“If we decide to wait, then we just let this funding go away… before this evening, I did not think anything in the plan was controversial,” Compitello said during the Council debate.
After continued disagreement, Perry acknowledged if the Council was not ready to commit the $250,000 funds for the grant, they could wait until the following year’s application process.
She also explained what the grant commitment means for the borough.
“I wanted to underscore in this plan we are looking at, there are no choices. These are recommendations. Nothing is going to come to pass unless this body finds the funding and gets behind it. And I want to underscore, this is a 20-year plan. [We are] laying a plan that says, ‘we are committed to developing recreational spaces for our community,’” she told council.
A motion called by Compitello to settle the dispute during the meeting failed to pass with a tie vote of 3-3; Councilors John Oliverio, Ridilla and Erin Bollenbacher voted against the motion while Compitello, Colton Chandler and Marks voted for it. Councilor Phillip Levasseur was not present at the meeting.
Perry suggested calling a special meeting March 29 to regroup and vote once more on the decision to pursue the grant or wait till the next fiscal year.
Crafton will soon begin interviewing firms who applied for the zoning request for proposals (RFP) process. This marks the next step in Crafton and Ingram boroughs’ joint zoning project, which will update the areas’ zoning regulations in hopes of attracting new businesses.
The zoning project’s planning commission recommended to council they interview each of the three firms that applied to the RFP.
Perry reported to council that Crafton is conducting a study of its police department. This study will review and evaluate the health and efficiency of the department as well as recommend improvements to be made. It is expected to take six to nine months.