Rec study narrows focus

After gathering residents’ input over most of last year, Mt. Lebanon is ready to take the next step in developing a master plan for parks and a feasibility study for a new recreation facility. Commissioners should receive a final set of recommendations by January and are expected to issue the final version of the plan sometime in the first quarter of this year.

Following several months of collecting public input, Mt. Lebanon is fine-tuning its parks master plan and recreation facility feasibility study, with plans to present the Commission with a final list of recommendations by January.

Residents had the chance to take part in an online questionnaire on interest in a recreation facility, and changes they would like to see in the parks. Assistant Manager/Planner Ian McMeans led the team of staff that worked with Carolyn Yeagle of Environmental Planning and Design, the consulting firm hired to perform the study. In November, McMeans shared the findings with the commission.

When asked to list the most important amenities for a recreation center, 65 percent chose programming, while parking and affordability claimed 42 and 41 percent, followed by 31 percent for a community gathering place and 28 percent chose space for events.

Survey takers listed the three most-needed facilities for an indoor recreation center as fitness and weight training area, aquatics and a walking track, each garnering 45 to 49 percent of responses. Multi-use sports courts were chosen by 38 percent, with 21 percent choosing community rooms.

A second survey addressed the importance of indoor aquatics in a new building. McMeans said the survey was necessary to gauge interest, because the cost per square foot of constructing indoor aquatics is about double that of other indoor assets.

“This was a very important data point for us to get,” he said, “to see if our residents were so tied to aquatics that we needed to build it.”

The overwhelming majority of respondents, 69 percent, said they would still use a recreation facility if there were no aquatics. Of the remainder, 20 percent said they would only use the aquatics, and 11 percent were against any new or expanded facility.

McMeans said incorporating all the things residents expressed interest in—sports courts, indoor track, fitness area, meeting rooms, changing rooms, racquet sports and a wellness center–would call for a space anywhere from 75,000 to 100,000 square feet, with a midpoint of 85,000 square feet, and would require 400 parking spaces.

McMeans expects to present the Commission with the final list of recommendations in January, and allow time for a final review and comments before issuing the final plan sometime in the first quarter of 2022.