A concept plan will be done to determine what improvements are needed in Lower Macungie Township’s Quarry Park -- and how much making those improvements will cost.
On Thursday night, township commissioners unanimously approved paying $4,000 to D’Huy Engineering, Inc., of Bethlehem to develop that plan.
D’Huy has done many athletic field projects for municipalities, school districts and universities.
The concept plan will precede more detailed land development plans that will be needed before any actual improvements are made in the park, which is along Quarry Road west of Route 100.
Yet one commissioner expressed optimism that doing the concept plan now will lead to a 2015 township budget allocation for more detailed planning, and perhaps even some improvements next year at the park.
“I’ve been pushing for years to take Quarry Park and turn it into more of a regional athletic complex,” said Commissioner Brian Higgins, “where we have lights, scoreboards -- and we may have an artificial surface field, so we’re not constantly chewing up the fields by overusing them.
“We’re asking for a concept plan so we can get an idea of what a project like this would cost.”
Higgins said the concept plan will be done within just four weeks.
D’Huy officials will attend one public township meeting to present and discuss the concept plan.
Higgins said the township will try to include funds to start making improvements at Quarry Park in the 2015 budget.
He said Quarry Park is more than 20 years old, but offers few amenities. He explained it only has restrooms in one building, which has to be locked during major sports tournaments because “they would overflow.”
Higgins estimated improving only half of Quarry Park would cost about $4 million.
“We’re only looking at a concept plan for the front half of the park right now,” he said.
The commissioner said the 35-acre park has four baseball fields and three regulation flat fields, used for soccer, football, field hockey and lacrosse. But he added one of those flat fields is in the outfield of a baseball field.
While Commissioner Douglas Brown joined his colleagues in voting to hire D’Huy, he expressed reservations about getting only one proposal to do the concept plan.
“This was rushed, pushed forward,” complained Brown. “This is how mistakes are made. We didn’t properly vet this thing.”
Township engineer William Erdman said the D’Huy proposal “looks reasonable. It’s a very limited scope of work. My understanding is D’Huy Engineering has done things exactly in line with what the intent is here, so they can hit the ground pretty quickly on it.”
Erdman said the sole purpose of the concept plan is to get numbers for the 2015 township budget, which is why the township is moving quickly.
“Whether it goes forward in the budget or not, at least the numbers will be available,” said Erdman.
Conrad agreed the township needs to have the concept plan before budget time, to help determine how much to allocate for improvements in the park.
“This is a positive move forward,” he said.
Park lights moving
In a related matter, township commissioners formally approved a request from the Lower Macungie Youth Association to move lights used to illuminate playing fields from Creamery Park to Quarry Park.
Quarry is considered a better site for after-dark sports activities because no residents live nearby to be annoyed by the “very bright” lights.
Higgins said the lights have become an issue for township residents living near Creamery Park, which is along Spring Creek Road.
“It’s an improvement,” said Conrad.