B-A shows it can see the future

The upgrades planned for Bellwood-Antis Community Park will enhance the facility as an asset for people to enjoy — and about which to be proud — for many years.

But as area residents look forward to a day when the upgrades will be completed, they should not fail to understand the three important components in the proverbial foundation that have made the project possible.

The first is planning, a product of officials’ and community residents’ vision about the future.

The second is good financial management that is allowing the pursuit of state grants that are unavailable without a local financial contribution — a percentage or dollar match.

Of course, officials remain vigilant about 100-percent funding opportunities as well.

The third component is agility within municipal operations that allows local resources to be made available for the project, enabling the amount of local money required to be reduced.

Beyond all that, Antis Township officials made a wise decision in bringing in a person skilled in writing grant applications in an atttempt to present the municipality’s request to the state in the most compelling way possible.

Last year, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources awarded the township $200,000 for park improvements, $92,157 of which is being allocated for Phase 1 and $107,843 is targeted for helping fund Phase 2, the total cost of which is estimated to be $400,000.

Underway at this time is preparation of an application for $250,000 for Phase 2 that will be submitted to the state Department of Community and Economic Development. According to the grant writer, Richard Sutter, the DCED application will be submitted to the state agency by May 31.

Work on Phase 1, which will include construction of basketball and volleyball courts and a handicap-accessible parking lot, will begin with a groundbreaking at 1 p.m. Thursday.

The DCED Phase 2 grant, if Antis is successful in getting it, will require a local match of $37,500. In addition to in-kind services that the township may be able to provide, the township hopes to be able to leverage some already existing grant funds to cover the remaining part of the local share — or to at least minimize the impact on local tax dollars.

That’s evidence of solid project financial management.

The upcoming construction will be the first improvements at the park since the preparation of a comprehensive parks and recreation plan outlining both physical and administrative upgrades.

At an Antis Township supervisors meeting on May 3, during which the park project was the main focus, the supervisors also approved a feasibility study report for the first phase of a four-phase trail project — the first phase covering a distance of 2 miles from a Route 865 overpass in Bellwood Borough to Becker Road in the township.

Lucas Martsolf, Antis Township manager, estimated that $3 million to $4 million in grants will be sought to fund the overall trail endeavor, and he expressed the belief that 95 percent of the cost would be covered by grants.

Government grants seldom come looking for a recipient; the municipalities that are successful in obtaining grants are the ones aggressive in pursuing them.

Count Antis among those communities with a solid understanding of that.

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