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Park staff: Walk this way

Slippery Rock Community Park is already home to playgrounds, pavilions, classes, programs and more for all ages, and a two-mile walking trail would be a welcome addition.

“The community wanted to see walking trails,” Mary Messer, the park’s director, said Thursday of a survey that was done several years ago.

With the borough’s approval, the park has applied for a $250,000 grant through the Marcellus Legacy Fund to cover the majority of the cost of the project, which calls for two miles of 8-foot crushed gravel and benches.

It requires a 15 percent match from the park — $37,500 — which would come from the park’s general fund, a county grant they also need to apply for and donations from the community.

“We’re always looking for donations,” Messer said.

Slippery Rock Borough in 2010 completed a master site development plan for the park, and two items have already been checked off the priority list, thanks in part to donations – a new sign at the park’s entrance that lists upcoming events and a new playground and new restrooms at the Rotary pavilion.

Messer won’t know until October if the grant for the trails has been approved, but if it is, the project will be done in four phases with construction starting next August and ending in April 2016.

The park applied for the same grant for the trail project last year but didn’t get it; they’re sticking with it because of the low match that’s required.

“That is the most economical for us,” Messer said.

The Marcellus Legacy Fund was established by Act 13 of 2012 and allocates money for “planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development website.

Act 13 was signed into law in Pennsylvania to modernize drilling regulations.

In other park news, things are going well with the various programs and activities, including a hula hoop loom class that was going on Thursday afternoon in one of the pavilions.

The 65-acre park, which opened to the public in the 1970s, has already hosted many summer events — preschool classes, gymnastics, dance classes, summer camp and photography and cooking classes.

The park teams up with Slippery Rock University for numerous offerings like art classes, sports programs and swimming lessons, especially since the park doesn’t have a pool, Messer said.

“We have an excellent partnership with the university,” she said.

“Watermelon Wednesdays,” held each Wednesday in July, have been very popular for years and feature a concert, children’s activities and watermelon; it’s sponsored by Slippery Rock Giant Eagle.

The park is run by two full-time and 25 to 30 part-time staff members and there’s also a board of directors with nine members, but volunteers are always needed, Messer said.

“A lot of the park’s programs are dependent on the volunteers,” she said, adding she’s open to suggestions for new program ideas.

Volunteers can also help with landscaping and cleanup and they will be needed to assist with the new trail, if the park is approved for the funding.

Besides grants and donations, the park is funded by the Slippery Rock Area School District, Slippery Rock Borough and Slippery Rock Township.

Sisters-in-law Cindy Long, of Boyers, and Stephanie Long, of Portersville, brought their kids to the park on Thursday and said they hope the grant for the trail comes through because a separate walking path is definitely needed.

They enjoy everything the park offers now, especially the play areas for their children and “Watermelon Wednesdays.”

“That’s a good time,” Stephanie Long said, adding she’s been coming to that event for quite a few years.

Slippery Rock Community Park is at 320 N. Main St. For more information, call 724-794-8180 or visit or find them on Facebook under “Slippery Rock Area Parks and Recreation.”

Published July 19, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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