Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting Regional About Recreation

Mercury Photo by John Strickler

A regional recreation coordinator can help maximize the
impact and expand large regional events like the Pottstown 
Volleyball Rumble.
The state has approved a grant to help fund a regional recreation coordinator for six of the eight municipalities which comprise the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning area.

Called a “circuit rider,” the position is designed to help coordinate regional recreation events and resources and to provide support for townships who may not have a large recreation department.
Among the activities and benefits envisioned for the new position are:
  • Cheaper and more successful grant writing due to the nature of the intergovernmental cooperation involved;
  • Help in coordinating the use of existing facilities and services and the prevention unnecessary duplication; 
  • Developing trails and greenway connections, like linking the Schuylkill River Trail in Pottstown through Chester County to Phoenixville;
  • Expanding promotion of existing parks and programs and coordination of the scheduling of major events among them;
  • Identifying and facilitating sharing resources among youth sports groups;
  • Coordinating public/private partnerships, contributions and volunteer efforts.
David Kraybill, the executive director of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, brought the news to the regional planners during their Feb. 26 meeting.

He said the grant is for $67,500 per year for four years for the position.

A circuit rider can also help obtain grants to improve
and expand fields, like the refurbished field at Memorial Park
here in Pottstown.
The foundation is providing office space for whomever is hired and paying the health benefits.

The grant is a diminishing grant, with the participating townships shouldering a slowly increasing portion of the cost, with their annual contribution capped at $5,000.

The townships of East Coventry and New Hanover both opted out of participating.

Since 2010, the foundation has worked off the results of an area recreation study by Penn State which, among other things, reinforced the need for better regional recreation coordination, to get the most bang for the recreation buck, in pursuit of one of the foundation’s major goals — to promote an active lifestyle among area residents.

With the help of grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the foundation and regional planning committee have been working to outline a job description and set of responsibilities for the post.

Kraybill told the planners the state indicated that the level of cooperation among the participating townships in laying the groundwork and applying for the position “is the greatest level of cooperation they’ve seen in Pennsylvania.”

“The fact that you cooperate, stands out,” he said.

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