Some taxpayers upset over proposed new Dauphin County community park

LOWER SWATARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) – A youth athletic association in the Midstate is looking for more ball fields. Township commissioners may grant their wish, but not everyone in the community is happy about the idea.

Lower Swatara Township Commissioners approved a grant to help build a new community park. Some viewers called our station upset about the decision because not all of the details are ironed out.

“On opening day, it’s either raining, or you go home with sunburn,” Laura Lee Miller said.

Parents like Miller are taking in opening day.

“90 percent of my time is at the ball field,” Miller said.

That’s because she’s a mom to three boys, and two of them play ball.

“More teams, more tournaments, that always helps the organization,” Miller said.

“We’re really bulging at the seams right now,” said Jason Wagner, president of the Lower Swatara Township Athletic Association.

260 kids ages five to 18, on 25 teams, are a part of the Association.

“We’ve really been a growing organization, which is a great thing,” Wagner said. “We’re providing a place where kids can have fun in our community, but it comes with the need for some additional space, and that’s why we’re really excited about this opportunity.”

The opportunity is at the 32-acre Shireman tract of land at the intersection of Ebenezer Road and Longview Drive.

Commissioners may have two to four fields there for baseball and softball, but don’t have a full feasibility study yet to show the land will be suitable for it. This is leading to concerns about tax dollars funding a project that may not get off the ground. The Board approved a grant paying for 50 percent of the land purchase, but not having a feasibility study means taxpayer money could go to it.

“We’re really kind of limited with our current field capacity,” Wagner said. “We’re using school district fields just to get by.”

Parents and coaches are hoping to hit a home run next year with the new fields.

“It’s always good to keep up with the times and advance our organization,” Miller said.

“We’re looking forward to that so that we can provide an even better program than we think we’re doing now,” Wagner said.

The idea is for a community park to be built on the tract and also include courts, a walking trail, and a dog park. It could be open for the Association’s opening day in 2018.

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