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Town Topics

Morgan Happe and her fiance James Nett (foreground) play Chuck Vietmeier and his wife Kirsten Rydstrom , in a doubles match of pickleball at the courts behind Lincoln Elementary School. The municipality is adding lines to tennis courts in Meadowcroft and Williamsburg parks to provide flexible playing space. /Photo: John Schisler

Pickleball is coming to town

What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s what some deem the fastest growing sport in America—and it’s taking the country by storm. Essentially, it’s a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played with a paddle and a plastic ball on a badminton-size court. 

The USA Pickleball Association has a database that contains nearly 8,000 places to play in the U.S., with 1,300 new locations added in 2019 alone. With its popularity rising and residents’ repeated requests for a playing space, the municipality this spring will add lines for pickleball courts to existing tennis courts in Williamsburg and Meadowcroft parks. That means both games can be played in the space. Commissioners gave this plan a thumbs-up in December.

“We have been aware of its popularity for several years and have taken steps to try to introduce it to the community, such as offering instructional clinics,” said recreation director David Donnellan.” But without pickleball facilities, our options are limited.”

Pickleball has been on the radar of Mt. Lebanon leaders for many years. The sports advisory board first proposed adding pickleball courts in the municipality in 2018. Over the last several months, leaders have weighed several options to add pickleball playing surfaces in the municipality.

Options discussed included converting the tennis courts at Meadowcroft into permanent pickleball courts at a cost just over $48,000. Another idea was to convert some courts at the tennis center at a cost of $8,760, and charge a fee to players. The tennis courts’ Har-Tru surface is not currently what is preferred for pickleball play, although Donnellan said that could change.

Constructing three brand-new pickleball courts comes with a price tag of $342,916.

With finances in mind during this uncertain season, the Commission chose to add lines to three existing tennis courts to create five pickleball courts between Williamsburg and Meadowcroft. For two of the Williamsburg pickleball courts, lines will be drawn perpendicular to the tennis court—with one pickleball court added on each side of the net. Players will need to bring a portable net if they choose to play on the perpendicular courts. The other three courts allow use of the existing tennis nets. “This option was selected for its low cost and ease of implementation, so that residents can start playing pickleball next spring,” he said.

Donnellan anticipates the game will take off even more in Lebo once people see others playing on local courts. He anticipates discussions will resume during the 2022 budget planning process toward the primary goal: To have permanent, dedicated pickleball courts in the municipality.

 

Brushed concrete and exposed aggregate will replace the existing sidewalks in the Washington Road business district as one of several improvements planned for Uptown.

Shop, Dine, Recharge

An electric vehicle (EV) charging station is the latest addition to the newly renovated Overlook parking lot behind the Beverly Road shopping district. Mt. Lebanon received a $9,000 grant in the form of a rebate through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Driving PA Forward program to help offset the cost of the $20,179 ChargePoint EV Charger. The station includes two Level 2 charging ports at the station, capable of adding 10 to 20 miles of range per charging hour, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Users will pay by the hour to help offset the cost of electricity. 

“We are basically using this unit as a pilot program to find out how much interest and need there is in the community,” said Rudy Sukal, director of public works. 

The impetus for the program came when commissioners expressed an interest in exploring options for installing EV charging stations in the municipality, Sukal said. The Overlook lot was the perfect location to test the waters. Not only was the lot undergoing renovations, which allowed for easy installation of conduit and wiring for the unit, but the location is in close proximity to the Beverly Road business district—with apartments and housing nearby. 

Parking Enforcement Supervisor Mark Quealy will review analytics to gauge usage and further needs. The cost to use the unit is $1.25 for the first hour and $2.25 thereafter, with a maximum of $8 for every four hours of use. To promote use, the municipality is assuming the cost of some of the electric for the first hour, Quealy said. However, the rates are set with the goal that the municipality will break even on costs. 

Users must create an account with ChargePoint. A QR code for the app appears on the charger display to allow for easy download. 

Municipal leaders are trying to find the right balance—knowing that the majority of vehicles today still run with fuel and adding an EV charging station takes away a traditional parking space. A consultant from EV United in Dublin, Ohio, helped municipal leaders through the process. 

Municipal staff will track usage through the ChargePoint service to determine if there’s a need for more charging stations throughout the municipality. “We’ll see how the interest is and how much it gets used and move from there,” Sukal said. 

 

Bird Park Blooms

Bluebells are one of the native flowers the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy planted in Bird Park, courtesy of a $5,000 donation from a former resident. istock

Bird Park will be sporting some new flora this spring, courtesy of a $5,000 donation to the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy. 

Janine Adler Parker, a 1978 Mt. Lebanon High School grad who now lives in Utah, was in town for a visit in 2019. She, her husband and her brother took a walk in Bird Park and Parker thought of a great way to memorialize her parents, Barbara and Sheldon, who passed away in 2018 within a few months of each other. 

“They went hiking every weekend in local parks and nature reserves,” she said. “During the spring, summer and fall months, my mother wrote down every wildflower they spotted. We have several notebooks full of her observations.”

The donation has already paid for a number of plants, including native ferns, bluebells, bloodroot, trilliums, wild geraniums, goldenseal, strawberry bush, wild iris, tiarella, black cohosh, clethra, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, elderberry, catalpa, bottlebrush buckeye and hop hornbeam, according to Ron Block, vice president of projects for the conservancy. 

“We were delighted to find the nature trail at Bird Park,” Parker said. “It is the kind of place my parents enjoyed visiting in their free time.  A garden of native plants in the community where my brother and I grew up seems to be a fitting memorial for them.”  

 

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New Mt. Lebanon Employees

Tammy Kammenzind is Mt. Lebanon’s new treasury manager. Kammenzind comes to Mt. Lebanon from the University of Pittsburgh, where she has held several positions relating to real estate and leasing. Her most recent position was in the office of the CFO, where she was responsible for more than $50 million worth of property, collecting more than $12 million a year. 

Kammenzind, a Dormont resident, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Robert Morris University, and a master’s in public policy management from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Tim Ishman is Mt. Lebanon’s new  assistant recreation director. Ishman, a Beaver Falls resident, has been Beaver County’s Director of Recreation and Tourism for the past seven years. Other posts include Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Pittsburgh and 24 years with the YMCA, ending his tenure there as executive director of the South Hills/Cloverleaf YMCA. Ishman has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and sports management from Robert Morris University. In 2016, he was named to the Robert Morris University Sports Management Hall of Fame. 

Emily N. Radamis is Mt. Lebanon Magazine’s new public information office assistant. A Michigan native, Radamis graduated from Western Governors University in Utah, with a bachelor’s degree in marketing management and a master’s in management and leadership. She comes to Mt. Lebanon from Art Sphere in Philadelphia, a nonprofit that focuses on providing arts education to underserved children. She lives on Margaretta Avenue with her husband, Andrew, and two rescue dogs, Malcolm and Kokomo. 

 

Senior Golf

SENIOR GOLF Mt. Lebanon Senior Men’s Golf Club is open to all men age 55 or older.  The Mt. Lebanon Senior Men’s Golf Club plays at Mt. Lebanon Golf Course on Wednesday mornings starting April 7 to October 6 with six away events.  Membership applications are available at the Mt Lebanon Golf Course. For further information go to www.mensgolfmtlebo.site123.me [1].