STATE COLLEGE - On a hill overlooking Oak Hall next to Mount Nittany, construction is well underway on a 68-acre park that is set to open in the spring of 2015.
Phase one of the $3.2 million project - which consists of constructing four baseball fields, restrooms and a concession stand - is about halfway complete.
Donald Woodland, Director of Parks and Recreation for Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority, said this and two other similar projects in the area were 10 years in the making.
Sentinel photo by KIERNAN M. SCHALK
Construction workers build the concession stand for Oak Hall Park in State College. The park will have four baseball fields, a playground, practice area and concession stand when finished.
The Hess Field facility on state Route 45 near Shingletown Gap was the first park completed. Oak Hall will be the second, followed by a park on Whitehall Road in State College, which is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2015.
"We already have had six tournaments at Hess Field," Woodland said.
The area has been "short on active recreation facilities," Woodland said.
With the exception of recreation facilities at Penn State University and a few scattered Little League fields, the area is falling short on the demand for recreation, Woodland added.
The hope is that when the Oak Hall park is complete, it will be able to play host for regional and statewide tournaments in addition to local usage.
Woodland said five municipalities put up the money for the park.
"It's all local money," he said, with the exception of a state grant which helped with the acquisition of the land and the Master Plan.
Walking around the site, Woodland pointed out some of the features of the park, including a practice area, which can also be used for people picnicking or flying kites.
One of the four baseball fields will have a solar-powered score board. The outdoor lights and playground will have to wait until phase two of the project, which will occur in the years to come.
Woodland said a top rate hydrologist was brought in, who was able to find a good water well to use.
In addition, Woodland said it was initially thought there would not be enough good top soil to use for the park, but that turned out to not be the case. There are 70,000 cubic yards of prime top soil and the baseball fields have already been sprayed with grass seed.
The bright green fields have all the specific measurements required for adult and youth baseball games.
The clay bricks that will go under the home plate and pitcher's mound are in place at the first baseball field. The bricks are industry standard because of the reduction of field maintenance, Woodland said. Woodland said the large parking lot for the park won't be paved, it will be made of crushed stone.
There is easy access to the parking lot off of Linden Hall Road, which is very near the Oak Hall-Lemont exit on U.S. 322.