Lehigh Valley

Covered Bridge Park design plans approved in South Whitehall Twp.

SOUTH WHITEHALL, TWP., Pa. - A consulting firm hired by South Whitehall Township presented their final design plans to revamp a "keystone of the community" during Wednesday night's board of commissioners meeting.

Yost, Strodoski, Mears Landscape Architects told the five-member legislative body that the majority of the people interviewed for the plan said Covered Bridge Park doesn't need a major face-lift so much as a "few tweaks" according to Ann Yost of YSM.

"People love this park just the way it is," Yost said. "..but we also heard 'enhance the convenience of the park.'"

"It's a gem of a park," noted President Christina Morgan. "...we're just trying to make better use of it."

The consulting firm, which had been awarded a $56,000 contract by the board of commissioners in June 2013, proposed a series of minor alterations to the park including two new crossings, two new athletic fields, one devoted to baseball and the other to soccer, with a new parking area able to accommodate up to 50 automobiles, a new playground area and a lawn.

Included in the mix will be additional restroom facilities.

The design also "expands walking opportunities."

One current playing field is scheduled to be phased out "over time."

Many of the modest changes were somewhat curtailed due to a 100-year flood plain in the park.

"We tried to get into the site in different seasons and different periods when people were in the park," Yost said in providing background as to how YSM offered the recommendations they did. "We also did a lot of outreach, we talked to people in the community, especially the user groups, the sports groups that used the park."

The developed park that township residents are currently familiar with is about 86 acres, according to Yost.

The township also owns a 24-acre parcel of open space that had been purchased for park land but currently remains undeveloped.

Later in the meeting, the board approved a resolution to move forward with the project.

In other business, township police officer, Scott Rehrig, was honored for his service to the community, as he ends his law enforcement career in the township February 28th.

Chief Thomas Toth praised Rehrig for his ardent commitment to his job and his community over a sterling 27-year career in the township that began on Oct. 13, 1986.

In addition, given the near epic proportions of snow this winter, commissioners approved a motion to have the township's Public Safety Commission and staff review the township's current snow emergency routes map.

"It's been a number of years since that was looked at," said Howard Kutzler, township director of administration. "The commission believes that it is time for that map to be looked at and then eventually, if possible, an ordinance amendment by the board of commissioners."

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