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Shireman project gets $300,000 grant; Lower Swatara must decide whether to take money

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/7/19

Lower Swatara Township has received a $300,000 grant to help develop a 32-acre parcel of land called the Shireman tract.

Township Manager Betsy McBride said she was thrilled when she learned that …

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Shireman project gets $300,000 grant; Lower Swatara must decide whether to take money

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Lower Swatara Township has received a $300,000 grant to help develop a 32-acre parcel of land called the Shireman tract.

Township Manager Betsy McBride said she was thrilled when she learned that the township was awarded the money.

“This is just a fabulous start to get this going,” she said.

McBride said the commissioners will probably make a decision at their meeting tonight at 7 p.m. whether to accept the grant, which requires a $300,000 match.

Lower Swatara originally asked for $613,500 and was awarded $300,000, which is to be used for two ball fields, open space, bulk excavation and fill, stormwater management, permits and a land development plan.

The grant was awarded through the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The program is administered “for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.”

Lower Swatara purchased the Shireman tract, which is located on the corner of Longview Drive and Ebenezer Road, in 2017.

McBride said she believes the township applied for the grant in 2017. The Shireman project was one of 500 projects statewide that applied for round one of funding. Thirteen applied in Dauphin County, and seven were awarded funding, including the Steel Works development in Steelton, the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, the Insulators Local Union 23 in East Hanover, Hummel Street redevelopment in Harrisburg, the Hershey Community Center in Derry, and the 320 Reily mixed-use development in Harrisburg.

McBride said the Lower Swatara Township Athletic Association has said that it’s running out of ballfields. However, she encouraged input from the public on usage as well.

According to McBride, preliminary numbers suggest that it would cost more than $2 million to develop the land with a baseball field, softball field, pickleball court, bleachers, playground, walking trails, parking and stormwater management.

Phase one, which would cost about $1.1 million, would not include all of the proposed parking or one of the ball fields and pickleball court. McBride said the township still needed to decide if it wanted to do all that work right now.

“It’s a lot of land that we’ve kind of been kicking down the road to deal with it,” McBride said.

The $300,000 match has not been budgeted, she said; the township has started work on the 2020 budget, adding that it’s good timing to know the grant is available.

In a press release, state Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara, said  the three projects in his district, also including those in East Hanover and Derry townships, will “help to make our communities a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

“The Shireman Tract improvements will produce recreational areas that will be utilized by residents and surrounding communities, including our children and grandchildren, making this an important investment with long-term impacts,” Mehaffie said.

“I think the township is very appreciative for the help that he has given us,” McBride said of Mehaffie, who is the former president of the township board.