During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Penn Forest Township Board of Supervisors Monday, Chairman Paul Montemuro reported that the 30-acre park across from Bear Creek Lake Development would receive a funding boost in the form of a $248,000 grant.
With this new grant and an earlier one of $255,000, both from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the park project has more than $500,000 of available funding.
Rep. Keith McCall is working to provide another $80,000, bringing that total closer to $600,000.
The board expects construction to begin in the spring, after Department of Environmental Protection and Highway Occupancy Permit approval.
The first priority is to install a parking lot and bathroom structure, and plant grass for a soccer field.
Seventeen soccer teams that currently play at Beltzville State Park will be relocated due to budget short falls.
Anticipating future plans for the park's development, Montemuro added that "as the grant money comes in, and we're not going to add a tax, we'll start doing more of the phases."
Funding for the project has been helped along by the fact that four separate municipal entities are cooperating on the project: Penn Forest Township, Kidder Township, Jim Thorpe Borough, and the Jim Thorpe Area School District.
Montemuro trusts that funding for the project will continue.
"This is the last kind of funding the DCNR will cut because everyone wants somewhere for the kids to go and play," he said.
The township will be responsible for park maintenance and will be liable for nonschool sponsored activities, but taxpayers will not see a rise in the township's insurance premium since the park will be covered under its existing umbrella policy.
Supervisor Warren Reiner doesn't expect further DCNR grants in the future, due to the state's weak fiscal position.
In other township business, the board voted to elect Vice Chairman Judith Knappenberger to the position of Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, with Supervisor Alan Katz voting against the motion.
Zoning Officer Joseph Steber has been contacted by a real estate developer who is interested in developing a commercial wind farm within a 90-acre property on Maury Road, once intended for residential development.
Steber noted, however, that current zoning ordinances do not cover commercial wind farms, but are applicable to private wind farms.
A tentative court date of Jan. 14, 2011 has been set for Penn Forest Township's civil suit against Bridge Associates of Albrightsville, LLC, 2014 State Rt. 534, Albrightsville. The township claims that the defendant has allowed waste to accumulate on the property in violation of township ordinances, and Steber observed that the garbage remains at the site.
The board passed a motion to allow American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), employees to come to the township during next year's tax filing season to assist seniors with their federal and state income tax returns.
AARP will be available in the municipal building, 2010 Route 903, from Feb. 1 through April 15, 2011, from 9 a.m. to noon.