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GARA reports a healthy year; moves forward on splash park

Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority (GARA) Executive Director Erin Peddigree reported to the borough council about the rec park on Monday evening, saying finances had been improving but that there were still challenges ahead.

Peddigree reviewed the many events held at the park including the 4th of July fireworks and said that big projects over the past years had included playground renovations, updates to the Weikert baseball field, and installation of a very popular bicycle pump track.

girl standing on pool

Peddigree said the park had 1 full-time position (the Executive Director) and 7 part-time positions and that most of GARA’s income comes from contributions from Gettysburg Borough and Cumberland Township. The rest comes from rentals and contributions.

Peddigree said GARA had done well financially during the pandemic. “The rec park became a place for a lot of people to go to the past 2 years. If they want to have a birthday party or a celebration or just to get outside and walk.”

Peddigree said the rec park has been in existence around since 1940 and had been built by the community. “This is a really big community park but some of the things are starting to fall apart,” she said.

Peddigree said the rec park had three parking lots and at least 2 of them need to be repaved at a cost of about $80,000 to $100,000. She said the bathrooms in the park are all between 20 and 40 years old and that the maintenance equipment was aging. “Our two zero-turn mowers are about 16 years old which is a very long lifespan,” she said.

Peddigree said she would also like to update the Youth Activities Building.

“We’ve had some vandalism. To get some security cameras in the park would be good.”

Peddigree thanked the staff and especially the three part-time maintenance workers. “How clean it is; how nice it is, is really thanks to those three guys,” she said

Peddigree said she was hoping the park would receive a grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), perhaps in the $100,000 range, and that a community panel would be created to discuss the park’s needs during the application process.

Peddigree said a new splash park was being considered as part of the DCNR grant and that the park needed to map out the location of underground utilities. “We have to go under and see where everything connects. It’s going to take a year or two.”

Borough President Wesley Heyser said the money from the Borough and Cumberland Township was only designated as operational funds and that the borough had budgeted money in its capital projects funds to help the park with bathrooms and security cameras. Heyser said he did not think the rec park would likely be self-sustaining but that the situation was better than it had been. Heyser said looking back 20 years or so “the borough was spending a lot more than it is today. You folks at GARA are doing excellent work and you provide real value to the community.”

“We’ll keep trying different fundraisers,” said Peddigree.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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