The Whitehall Road Regional Park Project has been a vision for many years as part of the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) Regional Parks planning program. Master planning for the 100-acre park was approved in 2010, with updates to the master plan in 2013 and 2019. The first phase of development was finalized for the first 50 acres and the Land Development Plan was accepted and approved by Ferguson Township in December 2019. A few years later, the Agency held a Groundbreaking Ceremony and began construction in the winter of 2022. Today, the project is nearing completion, and a Grand Opening is anticipated for the late summer/early fall of 2024.

Funding for the Phase I improvements include loan proceeds, donations, and grants.

 

 Formation of the Regional Parks Concepts and Funding

 


  • COG Ad-Hoc Regional Parks Committee was formed in 2001. This group was formed to discuss the need for additional sports fields because demand was well-outpacing sports field inventory at that time. The demand included both softball/baseball diamonds and rectangular playing fields.

  • This committee determined that additional centrally located, regional sports facilities could begin to solve this issue.

  • The 68-acre Oak Hall Regional Park land was purchased in 2005. The COG Articles of Agreement state that the COG may only own property if it is unanimously approved by all member municipalities.

  • The ownership Articles of Agreement for Whitehall Road Regional Park were signed in November 2006 between the COG and Ferguson Township.

  • The Joint Articles of Agreement for the Planning, Operation, and Development of the Regional Parks were signed in November 2006 stating the Participating Municipalities will consider the regional parklands as regional open space resources to serve as public parks. The primary uses will be to provide for active recreation activities, including, but not limited to softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, etc., and where possible, to enhance public access to and enjoyment of the environment with provisions for passive recreation. The Master Plans for each site (eventually Oak Hall Regional Park, Whitehall Road Regional Park, and John Hess Softball Complex) will reflect these purposes.

  • The Participating Municipalities agreed to fund the following aspects of the regional parks: (a) park planning, (b) park development, (c) capital repairs/ capital renovations, and (d) operations/programming/ maintenance (including maintenance equipment), per the Regional Parks Joint Articles of Agreement.

  • 75-acres of the Whitehall Road Regional Park land was purchased by COG and Ferguson Township in 2008.




 Additional Regional Parks History

 

 

 

  • In 2010, COG officially purchased the John Hess Softball Complex and began making safety improvements to the infrastructure and later to the access road.

  • 25-acres of additional land was purchased in 2011 to make the Whitehall Road Regional Park a full 100-acres.

  • Resolution #2011-4 was signed by the regional parks’ participating municipalities in March 2011, approving the master site plan and facility upgrades for the John Hess Softball Complex, an amendment to the Oak Hall Regional Park master site plan and Phase I scope of work, revisions to the Phase I scope of work for Whitehall Road Regional Park, and the regional park development timeline.

  • Lease agreements for the three regional parks (Oak Hall, Whitehall Road, and Hess Softball Complex) were signed by the COG and Ferguson Township (for Whitehall Road Regional Park only), and the Authority in October 2011. The lease agreements transferred responsibility for planning, development, and operational decision-making to the Authority.

  • Regional Parks loan was secured in 2011 for the development of the Oak Hall Regional Park and the Whitehall Road Regional Park.

  • Oak Hall Regional Park’s Phase I development opened in the spring of 2015. Besides the funds purposed for the development of the park, emergency funding was approved through a loan with Centre Region Code during construction to remediate a stormwater issue.


The Ad-Hoc Regional Parks Committee was formed in approximately 2002. It was determined that larger, more centrally located regional park facilities were needed to overcome the shortfall of rectangular playing fields and baseball/softball diamonds.


The shortfall was based on the 1988 NRPA National Standards, the 2002 CRPR Sports Field Demand and Supply Analysis, and the PA Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) which is updated every 5 years. It was determined that the community was short:

            • 4 Baseball Fields
            • 4 Softball Fields
            • 12 Rectangular Fields


The work was purposeful: the goal was to locate and build the active recreation areas in larger regional parks to accommodate the demand of sports fields. The regional parks were designed to be active parks, with some passive elements.

By 2005–2006, the community gained:

            • 1 Rectangular Field at Circleville Park
            • 3 Rectangular Fields at Fogelman Field
            • These additions left the community with a shortage of 8 rectangular fields based on 2002 data.

  • The full build-out of Whitehall Road Regional Park planned for 10 rectangular fields (1 field as a potential area for an indoor turf facility), 3 large baseball diamonds, and 2 small softball diamonds, as well as other amenities.

  • Because of this planned work, other municipal park master plans have NOT included rectangular fields into master plans since Oak Hall Regional Park and Whitehall Road Regional Park contained a large number of these fields in the full master plans.


By 2015 the community gained:

            • 4 Baseball / Softball Fields at Hess Softball Complex
            • 4 Baseball / Softball Fields at Oak Hall Regional Park
            • These additions left the community without a deficit for baseball / softball fields based on 2002 data.
              However rectangular field shortages continued.

  • Since 2002, despite gaining ground with some sports fields, our community's sports participation has grown by leaps and bounds. Additionally, Penn State facilities are no longer available for public use, putting a higher demand on municipal and school district owned fields.

  • Demand has increased but the number of fields has not reached the planned inventory with the delay of Whitehall Road Regional Park.

  • The Ad-Hoc Regional Parks Committee opted for a three-prong approach for regional parks by purchasing the Hess Softball Complex and by purchasing land for what would become the Oak Hall Regional Park and the Whitehall Road Regional Park.

  • November 2006: COG signed the "Joint Articles of Agreement for Planning, Development, and Operation of Regional Parks" for the purpose of creating these Regional Parks.

 

  • Each Regional Park has:
            • An ownership agreement with the various municipality in which the park is located.
            • A lease agreement (see the Formation of the Regional Parks Concepts and Funding section), providing the development consistent with the approved Master Site Plans and operation oversight to the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority. This was a crucial step because COG did not have the ability to borrow funds for these developments, and the Authority did.


During the early discussions, the group members felt it important to have a regional facility in each of the participating municipalities:

            • Park Forest Pool (Patton Township)
            • Welch Pool (State College Borough)
            • Hess Softball Complex (Harris Township)
            • Oak Hall Regional Park (College Township)
            • Whitehall Road Regional Park (Ferguson Township)

 
Supporting Documents:
WRRP - CRPR Authority Lease Legal Opinion - 2021




 

 Regional Park Planning Hearing Summary #1 (2008)


Regional Park Planning Hearing Summary #1

Wed., Oct. 22, 2008, 7:30 – 9:00 PM at Mt. Nittany Middle School Cafeteria, 656 Brandywine Drive, State College 16801

(Total attendance 51, including 2 staff members)

Welcome and Introductions: Ronald J. Woodhead, CRPR Director, welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the members of the Regional Park Planning Committee and the Project Consultants:

 

Regional Park Committee from Ad Hoc Regional Park Committee: Dan Klees, College Township; Dick Mascolo, Ferguson Township; James Rosenberger, Borough of State College; Dan Sieminiski, Penn State University
Regional Park Committee from Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority: Sue Mascolo, Ferguson Township; Roy Harpster, Harris Township
Municipal Managers: Adam Brumbaugh, College Township; Mark Kunkle, Ferguson Township
Staff Members: Ronald J. Woodhead, CRPR Director; Jeff Hall, Recreation Supervisor-Sports & Fitness
Project Consultants: Jim Pashek, Dan Jones


Mr. Jim Pashek, Pashek Associates reviewed the goals for the meeting and answered the question “What is a Master Site Plan.” The Master Site Plan is really three or four sections:

1)   Public process of collecting information and ideas
2)   Analysis process where you inventory what is available on the site (both physically and culturally)
3)   Start design, giving form to the ideas and comments that have been made
4)   Finding the costs and prioritizing. He then reviewed what has been done so far to obtain information and comments

Mr. Dan Jones, Pashek Associates, reviewed each regional park site; Oak Hall Parklands, 68 acres and Whitehall Road parklands, 75 acres. He talked about the soils, access, slopes, location, surroundings, and the specifics of each site (potentials and challenges). While public input regarding the regional parks will be used for both sites, the immediate focus will be on the Master Site Plan for the Oak Hall parklands.

Mr. Pashek then outlined a process so that everyone would have the opportunity to provide their suggestions for facilities at the new parks. In addition written comments will be accepted at each hearing and be incorporated into the record. He distributed cards to those attending and asked them to write on their cards - “What facilities would you like to see developed at the regional parks?” When the participants finished writing, Mr. Pashek asked these participants to share one thing they had written on their card. These facilities are listed below with the ranking chosen by the participants.

 

COG Regional Park Master Plans
Public Suggestions (ranked) on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at Mount Nittany Middle School
Votes Key Issues and Recommended Facilities for the Regional Parks 
12 Oak Hall Intersection - difficult, steep entrance 
10 Soccer Fields - lots (6) full size, lights 
9 Unprogrammed Space 
9  Jogging trail & walking trails - natural surface preferred 
8 Oak Hall - Picnic areas / shelters, open space; Whitehall Road - athletics 
8 Concerned with lights, especially sports field lighting - Oak Hall, rural character 
7 Picnic shelters, playground - (3) w/capacity for 20 people w/wind wall ( Fort Bellefonte shelter) 
7 Restrictions - Water quality, Spring Creek stormwater management 
7 Community Garden - fence, perennials & vegetables, 2-3 acres ( Whitehall Rd. ) sunny 
6 Fence to adjacent farm property at Oak Hall 
6 Natural Heritage - back to history; tell the story through interpretive signs and programs 
6 Year-Round Tennis Facilities - bubble cover 
6 Steeper Areas - natural habitat trails, protect steep slopes from more intensive development 
5 Bikes use Lincoln - bike access - Atherton St. bikeway - some park users will arrive via bicycle 
4 Baseball Fields - Little Leagues, storage, lighting 
4 Harris Township - Wind generator; consider for these parks 
4 Small Stage - lawn, capacity to host 1-200 people 
4 Attractive Permanent Entry Point - Second access Oak Hall 
3 Basketball Courts: (4) lighted 
2 Gym, lots of things (hub), serve many functions, classrooms, year-round use - Volleyball, indoor soccer, basketball, interpretive center 
2 Wooded lot at Whitehall Park - preserve 
2 Bird Watch Blind / platform near wooded areas of both parks
2 Remote-Controlled Airplane Airfield, 8 acres, shelter
2 Volleyball Courts: (2) sand
2 Mini-Golf Course
2 Remote-Controlled Cars, paved area
2 Concessions Stand
2 Nighttime Security
2 Softball Fields (4) - Junior Girls
1 Cross-Country Skiing Trails
1 Ice Skating Rink
1 Bocce Courts
1 Fitness Stations along Trail
  Sledding Hill (lighting)
  Dog Park: Water, shelter, kiosk w/info, benches, scooper bags
  Bus Access Near Site; may allow less parking
  Hot Air Balloon Launch Area
  Skate Park - Street Course
  Frisbee Golf Course
  Maintenance Facility
  Restrooms

 

Mr. Pashek then reviewed the next steps. The suggestions from tonight’s meeting will be listed by priority and will be posted on the CRPR website. There is a second meeting on October 23, 2008, then the park planning committee will meet. He reviewed the statistics of the surveys so far: approximately 21% of the paper surveys were returned. The paper and website survey results will be complied, reviewed and posted on the CRPR website. Watch the website around January for the dates of additional meetings where some of the ideas and concepts will be shared. The question was asked as to the time frames for Oak Hall and for Whitehall Road. Mr. Pashek replied that he is hoping by the end of spring that there is a clear indication of what will be done at Oak Hall. Mr. Woodhead indicated that there are no plans yet for construction but he is hoping that plans for the Whitehall Road parkland will be available in a year. The question was asked if there will be a point where you could voice your negative opinions. Mr. Jones suggested that the person email her concerns to Mr. Woodhead. Mr. Pashek asked everyone to encourage their friends to attend the meeting tomorrow night (October 23, 2008).

Supporting Documents:
Regional Park Planning Hearing Summary #1






 Regional Park Planning Hearing Summary #2 (2008)


Regional Park Planning Hearing Summary #2

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008, 7:30 – 9:00 PM at the COG Building Forum Room, 2643 Gateway Drive, State College 16801

Welcome and Introductions (with 17 in attendance including 3 staff members)
Ronald J. Woodhead, Director CRPR, welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the members of the Regional Park Planning Committee and the Project Consultants:

Regional Park Committee from Ad Hoc Regional Park Committee: Dan Klees, College Township; Dick Mascolo, Ferguson Township; Dan Sieminiski, Penn State University; Jeff Luck, Patton Township (and son).
Regional Park Committee from Centre Regional Recreation Authority: Sue Mascolo, Ferguson Township; Donna Conway, State College Borough.
Staff Members: Ronald J. Woodhead, Director CRPR; Jeff Hall, Recreation Supervisor-Sports & Fitness; Jim Steff, COG Executive Director
Project Consultants: Jim Pashek, Dan Jones
 
Mr. Jim Pashek, Pashek Associates, reviewed the goals for the meeting and answered the question “What is a Master Site Plan.” A Master Site Plan is a policy document that sets the framework that helps us make decisions about the uses of the parks. This usually results in a concept drawing of the park development. The Master Site Plan is really three or four sections;
 
1)   Public process of collecting information and ideas
2)   Analysis process where you inventory what is available on the site (both physically and culturally)
3)   Start design, giving form to the ideas and comments that have been made
4)   Finding the costs and prioritizing. He then reviewed what has been done so far to obtain information and comments
 
Mr. Dan Jones, Pashek Associates, reviewed each regional park site; Oak Hall Parklands, 68 acres and Whitehall Road parklands, 75 acres. He talked about site analysis that includes the soils, access, slopes, location, surroundings, and the specifics of each site (potentials and challenges). The analysis is much more than just facts but includes the cultural and natural information about the park. While public input regarding the regional parks will be used for both sites, the immediate focus will be on the Master Site Plan for the Oak Hall parklands. He also cautioned people to remember that the park has not been designed yet; these maps are not designs.

Mr. Pashek asked those who were attending for the first time what items they were specifically interested in. A list of these suggestions is attached to this summary. They also had a discussion about what was expected when suggesting to have part of the park specified for radio controlled airplanes. Also, there was a question if access could be off Warner Blvd. – a discussion followed about access and the higher costs some of these suggestions would entail. Another discussion centered on whether there should be lights at any of these fields / parks. The majority of those present would rather not have lights. The sports organizations interviewed earlier in the day preferred lighting, saying that it would extend their season.


COG Regional Park Master Plans
Public suggestions on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at the COG Building
(No ranking was conducted)
Athletic fields
Trails / Walking
Picnic Areas / Pavilions
Other activities for kids while sibling is on field i.e. a playground, natural climbing structure, trails
Natural seating "berms" to watch games
Amphitheater for concerts
South Atherton bike, Middle School (Warner Blvd. fatality) - provide safe access to Boalsburg (Oak Hall site)
Non-traditional sports i.e. archery, volleyball, intramural sports @ Middle School (Oak Hall site)
Opportunities to walk from Mt. Nittany Middle School (Oak Hall site)
Disc golf course
Softball fields
Climbing - natural features protected
Model airplane field – define runway area, shelter, power for recharging
Nature area - not necessarily a nature center, kids getting dirty, learning
Remote-controlled car area
Natural play areas - sand
What to do with the wind - wind sculpture, windmill for power (Oak Hall)
Dark colors to absorb heat because of "cool" site (Oak Hall)
Trail through wooded area
Warming facility - fireplace, passive / active solar
Sustainable materials w/ educational message
Sound environmental principles - Existing vegetation, stormwater, thoughtful design
Avoid vegetative monoculture – w/ education about risks
Shade
Safe pedestrian access to park over / under bypass (Oak Hall)
Camping (informal)
Need sports facilities
Concerned with lighting - neighbors, noise late in evening, light pollution, parks need lights, Oak Hall - no lights
Oak Hall: less sports, topography more interesting; Whitehall: sport fields
Shallow area for outdoor skating. Warming hut.
Kite-flying area
Restroom or (disguised) Port-a-Johns


Mr. Pashek then reviewed the next steps. He reviewed the statistics of the surveys so far: approximately 21% of the surveys returned. The most frequent use of the parks is to walk or ride bike. The question was asked if the response in this area is the same or different than other areas. Mr. Pashek said that it is about the same, but the response rate is high. People want unstructured open space to use for family fun. A suggestion was made that some form of sanitary facilities should be available at every park. The suggestions from tonight’s meeting will be listed (included above) and will be posted on the CRPR website. The paper and website survey results will be compiled, reviewed and posted. Watch the website around January for the dates of additional meetings where some of the ideas and concepts will be shared. He thanked everyone for coming. Funding assistance to acquire the regional parklands and to prepare the Master Site Plans has been provided by the five participating municipalities and by a grant from PA DCNR "Community Conservation Partnership Program.”
 

 

 Survey Information and Results (2008)

Regional Park Planning Survey Results - Sep/Oct 2008

The paper survey was mailed to 2,422 randomly-selected households across the five participating municipalities in the Centre Region in early-Sept. 166 surveys were undeliverable, which left a pool of 2,257 households. 499 (22%) completed surveys were returned and analyzed by Pashek and Associates. The answers have been arranged in order of popularity from the paper survey.

The web-based survey with the same questions was available on from 3-26 Oct 08. The availability of this survey was advertised in the Centre Daily Times. The form would accept only fully-completed survey forms. 538 forms were submitted for analysis & reporting by Elizabeth Covelli, a Penn State graduate student in Recreation, Parks & Tourism Mgmt.

 

Dear Centre Region Residents,

The five municipalities in the State College area have expanded their cooperation for parks and recreation to acquire, plan, and develop two “regional” parks. These parks will serve all residents in future years. The Oak Hall parklands consists of 68 acres and the Whitehall Road parklands is a 75-acre tract. The focus of these parks will be to:

 

•  Provide outdoor, active recreation facilities close to home for families, groups and individuals
•  Promote the value of activity and fitness
  
Host community-based sport groups / organizations for both youth and adult activities
  
Continue multi-municipal cooperation to meet the needs of residents.

 

Your input from this questionnaire is an important component of preparing the Master Site Plans for each site. Funding assistance for these projects has been provided by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

 

Please tell us how your household has used the municipal parks and outdoor school district facilities in the Centre Region over the past five years. (Please check all that apply)

Paper (499) Web (538)  
298 405 Went to walk or ride a bike for exercise
266 470 Used facilities as an individual or family (i.e. tennis, bocce, playground)
222 332 Picnicked (family or group)
195 284 Went to enjoy the environment / landscape
188 290 Went to relax (i.e. sunbathe, read a book, people watch)
182 282 Attended/participated in organized sports (i.e. baseball/softball, soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball)
176 331 Visited Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
168 262 Attended special events held in the parks
144 324 Visited Welch or Park Forest Swimming Pools
124 215 Walked a dog
56 145 Participated in classes & programs held in parks
52 5 We have not visited those facilities in the past five years
2,071 Responses 3,145 Responses TOTAL

 

We are planning park facilities for the two new regional parks in the area. What facilities do you think we should include in those parks?
(Please select up to ten (10) facilities, then list the top three (3) facilities below.)

Paper (499) Web (538)  
374 397 Walking Trails
315 321 Picnic Pavilions
305 313 Shade trees/flowers
283 312 Playground Areas
198 255 Open Space
185 237 Sledding Area
166 228 Tennis Courts
152 147 Swimming Pool
142 305 Soccer Fields
135 77 Adult/Senior Fitness Stations
133 154 Basketball Courts
137 130 Community Garden Area
127 127 Dog park (fenced, off-leash area)
114 121 Amphitheater
105 133 Cross-Country Skiing Trails
103 94 Baseball Fields
96 79 Softball Fields
88 82 Sand Volleyball Court
72 43 Horseshoe Courts
62 54 Bocce Courts
52 75 Skateboarding Facilities
46 85 Disc Golf Course
34 47 Remote Control Airfield
31 58 Football Fields
21 30 Lacrosse Fields
3,476 TOTAL 3,957 TOTAL TOTAL RESPONSES

 

What kinds of trails would you or members of your household use in a park? (Check all that apply)

Paper (499) Web (538)  
408 475 Walking / Jogging Trails
336 403 Nature Trails
48 0 In-line Skating Trail
71 93 Other



Are you satisfied with the park facilities in the Centre Region currently available to the members of your household?

Paper (499) Web (538)  
361 (74%) 404 (75%) YES
78 (26%) 234 (25%) NO
439 Responses 538 responses  



Which municipality do you live in?

Paper (499)
Web (538)
Municipality

The paper survey was delivered to xx

households in this municipality

83 (17%)
135 (25%)
State College Borough 700 less 47 undeliverable = 653 (29%)
88 (18%)
96 (18%)
College Township 400 less 30 undeliverable = 370 (16%)
123 (25%)
152 (28%)
Ferguson Township 512 less 52 undeliverable = 460 (20%)
114 (24%)
37 (7%)
Harris Township 400 less 13 undeliverable = 387 (17%)
75 (16%)
86 (16%)
Patton Township 410 less 23 undeliverable = 387 (17%)
2: "Potter" & "Boalsburg"
32 (6%)
Other 0
485 Responses*
538 Responses*
TOTAL 2,422 less 166 undeliverable = 2,257**


Regarding the percentages in each column (examples):
* 17% of the paper survey respondents and 25% of the web survey respondents live in State College Borough.
** 29% of the selected addresses were in State College Borough


How long have you lived in the region defined by the five municipalities listed above?

Paper (499) Web (538)  
87 87 0-4 years
91 115 5-10 years
305 328 11+ years
483 Responses 538 Responses  

 


Please circle the number of people in your household in each age category.

Paper (499) Web (538)  
75 112 0-4 years
78 196 5-9 years
89 204 10-14 years
96 121 15-19 years
212 155 20-34 years
149 242 35-44 years
212 193 45-54 years
168 80 55-64 years
207 22 65+ years
490 responses representing
1,286 individuals
528 responses representing
1,325 individuals
 



Do you rent or own your residence?

Paper (499) Web (538)  
421 488 OWN
62 50 RENT
483 Responses 538 Responses  



Supporting Documents:

2008 Complete Survey Information and Results


 


 

 Approved Land Development Plan and the Overall Parks Master Plan and Amendments


APPROVED PHASE 1 DESIGN



APPROVED MASTER PLAN DESIGN


Initial Phase I project estimates and the initial budget were established in 2010; an updated budget was extrapolated from the 2010 budget to January 2020 estimates by Stahl Sheaffer Engineering, and that update reflected the current Phase I amenities, which vary greatly from the 2010 Phase I amenity list. It was hoped that during the 2020 bidding process that pricing would come in near the extrapolated budget – it came in under the engineer’s estimated amount. The current funding includes loan proceeds, donations, and several grant awards.


Supporting Documents:

2013 Whitehall Road Regional Park Master Plan
January 2019 - General Forum Meeting Minutes
June 2019 - Final Land Development Submission




 

 Prioritization that was Completed to Reduce the Focus on the Unfunded Scope


APPROVED PHASE 1 DESIGN




  • The WRRP Master Plan was developed by Pashek Design in 2009-2010 and the plan was approved by the COG General Forum in 2010. The design was based on the regional park's overall goal of providing additional sports fields for the community.

  • The Master Plan was updated in 2013, approving a synthetic turf option on two of the Phase I large tournament fields, approving the addition of sports field lighting, and approving removal of the planned Central Maintenance Facility. Attached is the 2013 Whitehall Road Regional Park Master Plan. (NOTE: This rendering still includes the Central Maintenance Facility; another rendering was not done to show this removal as the original files were not available in 2013.)

  • Phase I development of Whitehall Road Regional Park was placed on hold in 2016 due to a legal case filed with a neighboring property developer; the developer was to provide in-kind services for the park development, but since the neighboring development could not start until the court case was resolved, the park development was delayed as well. The value of the in-kind services was approximately $1.2 million, and the park’s budget could not cover those costs. The court case was resolved in December 2017.

  • During 2018-2020, the Phase I amenities were discussed and reduced since the available funding remained below actual costs. Review, discussion, and endorsement of the Phase I amenities took place at various COG Parks Capital Committee, CRPR Authority, and General Forum meetings held in 2019.

  • Fundraising and grant-writing also took place from 2018-2020 and continues into 2021. Necessary amenities remained unfunded as additional loan proceeds, grants, and donations were not enough to cover the costs.

  • In January 2020, the budget was updated by extrapolating the original budget details and updating those costs to 2020 estimates.

  • July 2020, the Authority prioritized unfunded items and determined that the only remaining option to include items in the first phase was to approach the municipalities for additional funding. The Phase I amenities had already been reduced as far as the Authority and Agency were comfortable, while still honoring the original regional parks plan for sports fields. The shortfall of sports fields remains in this community.

  • Initial bids were advertised in November 2020, per the approval of the Authority and at the request of the General Forum, to get current construction costs.

  • A competitive bid process was conducted through Penn Bid, an electronic public bidding process hosted virtually by a third party, ensuring public transparency. As widely reported in the news media and experienced locally with other projects, the cost of construction materials has escalated tremendously through the COVID public health emergency due to supply and demand challenges. Also, this is a very labor-intensive project, it is important to keep in mind that labor costs have a large impact on the overall project cost, particularly due to the prevailing wage requirements.

  • Bids were received and then tallied on December 15, 2020. The COG team, the design professionals, and the construction management firm all reviewed the results. There were apparent low bidders for each bid package:

    #1      Earthwork, Sitework & Concrete
    #2      Line Striping & Signage
    #3      Landscaping
    #3A    Seeding
    #4      Fencing
    #5      Playground equipment installation
    #6      Electrical
    #7      Alternate: Synthetic turf finishes on the two larger tournament fields –
             This will be rejected due to lack of funds. This was a potential area for donations that were not received as hoped.

    The apparent low bidders for each section were invited to a “de-scoping” meeting. During a de-scoping meeting, submissions are reviewed to ensure the full scope was included, to confirm material availability, proposed start date, and overall project duration, and to answer any questions regarding the construction documents. This process provided confidence to the team regarding construction costs, reliability of the contractors, and ensured the lowest, most qualified bidders were identified and will be the recommended contract awards.

    As part of the bid process, contractors were asked to hold bids for 60 days. Bids were set to expire on February 13, 2021. Bidders were asked to extend their bids for an additional 45 days, through March 30, 2021, while additional financial discussions move forward. Two-thirds of the bidders agreed in writing to extend their bids. At the March 25, 2021 Special Meeting of the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority, the Authority members rejected bids #1, #2, #3, #3A, #6 and #7. Bids #4 and #5 were awarded and a Notice to Award will be provided to each of the bidders indicating awards and rejections.

    Construction costs are roughly 70% of the overall project cost. One of the other categories of costs for the project includes fixtures, furniture, and equipment such as benches, bleachers, field lighting, playground equipment, nets, and goals, etc. Another cost category is the ongoing construction administration and coordination with third-party testing, construction management, loan refinancing costs, and design professional work throughout the project. Contingency has been included as well as some allowance for unknown conditions. This is a large site work project and given the types of soils, rock beds, and other underground challenges in this area it is prudent to include such allowances.






 Proposed Schedule and Cost Control

The current proposed schedule would be as follows:

March 2021:
 Awarded two contracts to the lowest, most qualified bidder, and rejected five contracts due to the on-going funding discussions.


May 2021: Secure financing strategies and confirm overall project scope.

June/July 2021: Update construction documents.

October-November 2021: Re-bid contracts that were rejected in March 2021.

March 2022 Award bids and begin contracting.

April 2022:  Ground-breaking ceremony and construction begins.


April 2022-Current: Construction continues. Sports fields are NOT open at this time and an estimated opening could be late summer of 2024.

 

Recent bid based estimates are outlined below:

Construction Contracts $4,574,882    
Design and CM Agreements $128,034 This represents the remaining $ of existing agreements.  
Construction and Design Allowances $220,600 This provides allowance for excess material hauling (construction) and then additional design and CM work throughout the project with unknown conditions being discovered as well as any added scope.  
Contingency $243,676 5%  
FF&E $1,215,614    
Total Project Cost without unfunded scope $6,382,806 Total Project Cost including unfunded scope (Restrooms, Maintenance, and Grid Irrigation). $7,157,806


Current funding is $5,741,889 80% of the total project cost.

The following grants are being considered to assist with funding this project:
$25,000 grant for the LED Sports Field Lighting project (no timeline on decision)
$25,000 grant for the All-Ability Playground project (Spring / early-summer decision)

Fundraising packets were mailed to potential donors in mid-February and follow-up will commence in early April and continue through Summer 2021.




 

 Restroom Facility, Maintenance Storage Building, and Irrigation System

  • There remain some unfunded items for the Phase I development of Whitehall Road Regional Park. This includes the All-Season Pavilion, Parking, a larger Maintenance Storage Building, and Irrigation. In the design document that is linked HERE, this only shows the restroom building, which is 1/3 of the total Restroom/Concession Stand/Year-Round Pavilion Building. The concession stand and year-round pavilion make up the other 2/3 of that building, and will be added later when funding is available.

 


 

 Field Operation



This data compares how WRRP will operate, using what we know from OHRP, despite OHRP having four ballfields vs. WRRP having four rectangular fields.

Below is 2019 data since 2020 was not a typical year due to COVID-19.

  • 2019 Oak Hall Regional Park, a 68-acre regional facility, hosted 60 adult softball teams which were all local players. These teams played across five different softball leagues, and rotated their games at either Oak Hall Regional Park or John Hess Softball Complex. These teams played over 550 games on weeknights and some Sundays. In addition to the Centre Region Parks and Recreation hosted softball leagues, the Agency also hosted State College Little League, local travel baseball and softball teams, and a local church league that utilized both complexes when available. Because there is a lack of rectangular field space, the Agency’s Youth Flag Football Leagues also play on the outfields at Oak Hall Regional Park. In 2019, 181 youth players across 15 teams played during September-November. During the weeknights, practices were held while games were played on Sundays. The only location available to the Adult Flag Football League run by the Agency is Spring Creek Park; that is due to the demand of our local youth football and soccer programs that need what rectangular fields are available throughout the rest of the park system. The four rectangular fields set for Whitehall Road Regional Park will reduce our eight rectangular field shortage to four fields once they are open. That will also help to move teams from non-athletic field playing areas in some of the local parks that have been designed as field use in order to meet the demand for rectangular field space.

 

  • Resting/ Repairing Fields: There is a need to rest/repair fields. We are currently not able to accomplish this and it shows at the end of the season. We have had to close fields down for rest/repair recently and it seems that this is going to be the norm soon. Building 4 new fields does not address this concern/need, unless synthetic becomes a more viable option. Lighting a field adds use time to the field without considering the need for maintenance. The wear of the fields from youth football at Oak Hall is starting to show.

 

  • At some of the local community parks, current sports groups are using drainage areas, outfields of softball/baseball fields, or other flat meadows that were not designed to be sports fields as spaces for their practices and game play. The drainage areas and general flat areas are not crowned appropriately for a sports field nor do they have the initial turf installation that provides even grass cover. Because these areas are being used in this manner, sports groups deal with uneven ground, divots, and in some cases, a lack of good grass cover. Each year, Centre Region Parks and Recreation attempts to schedule local user groups within the spaces available, and each year it remains a struggle to find suitable spaces in the quantity requested. The additional of these four rectangular fields will reduce use in these areas and/or completely eliminate use as we move teams to the new fields. The Whitehall Road Regional Park fields will still require rest and rotation as well, but these additional fields will also allow for other community park fields to be rested and rotated which will improve grass quality and sustainability over the course of the spring, summer, and fall seasons.




 Priority Use Agreements

  • As a method of fundraising by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority, two priority use agreements were created to support the construction budget of the Phase I project. The CVB Memorandum refers to an agreement with the Central PA Convention and Visitors Bureau, now known as the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau (HVAB). In turn for their donation dollars, the HVAB received a certain number of weekends reserved for their use to recruit and bring tournaments to the State College area. These tournaments generate local revenue through hotel stays, restaurant and local quick stop purchases, by teams who visit Happy Valley. Because securing tournaments takes sometimes one-two years of work in advance of the event, these secured weekends allow the HVAB to find and secure tournaments in advance, which then allows the planning required for hosting the events. This agreement does not eliminate the HVAB from paying field rental fees, but provides them priority use scheduling.

  • The Centre Soccer Memorandum is an agreement with the local Centre Soccer group. In turn for their donation of funds towards synthetic turf, the agreement provides first right of refusal for use of one synthetic turf field and one grass field during their spring and fall seasons, as well as a certain number of weekends reserved for their local tournament needs. This agreement does not eliminate Centre Soccer from paying field rental fees, but provides them priority use scheduling.

    Neither of these agreements will preclude any local resident or resident group from using Whitehall Road Regional Park. The Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency will schedule this park’s fields just as it does all the community sports fields within the region; the timeline for submitting use requests by all local groups will still be part of the process, including for Centre Soccer. Centre Soccer’s agreement does not go into effect until the fundraising for and the construction of the project are complete. Additionally, the priority use of these two fields does not provide enough space for Centre Soccer, as they have over 1,000 youth and adult players in their group. This group will still need additional field space within the community to accommodate all of their field needs.

  • Because this park is being built with taxpayer funds via the municipal contributions as well as public and private donations, this park must remain open for public access. Priority use scheduling does not block that access since the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency will still handle all scheduling and will ensure that groups have access to this park’s fields. Because the grant funding from PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), used to purchase and develop the Whitehall Road Regional Park property, mandates that this property remain open for public use, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation will ensure that it meets that need through proper scheduling. Additionally, both priority use agreements noted above were vetted with DCNR before the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority entered into those agreements.

    Supporting Documents:
    May 2019 - General Forum Meeting Minutes





 Penn State University - Musser Gap to Valleylands Project (MG2V)




  • The Whitehall Road Regional Park borders the land owned by Penn State University, which is part of the Musser Gap to Valleylands Project (MG2V). Because the Musser Gap Greenway Trail passes through Whitehall Road Regional Park and through this Penn State property, it is important to consider the connectivity between these two properties so that this greenway trail may remain a local community resource. The Musser Gap Greenway Trail crosses the park land, the Penn State Land, and then crosses Route 45 and continues into Rothrock State Forest, eventually connecting to the Mid-State Trail and eventually to several other regional trails like the Appalachian Trail. Penn State through public engagement and a consultant have created four concept plans for the Musser Gap to Valleylands Project (MG2V) and those concepts are outlined in this document (attachment). At this moment, there is no development timeline for the MG2V project, but it is hoped that conversations will continue on connectivity and passive/active use as the two properties relate to each other.

    Supporting Documents:
    Parks Capital Committee Meeting Minutes - July 11, 2019
    PSU Information Sheet - WRRP - June 2017
    Musser Gap to Valleylands Project Ideas - 2019
    Musser Gap to Valleylands - General Forum Update - April 25, 2022




 Under Construction!

 

 

On April 27, 2022, sixty-five individuals attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the initial phase of development at the Whitehall Road Regional Park, in Ferguson Township. Beautiful mountain views were the backdrop to heavy machinery, work crews, and utility trailers as key stakeholders and staff painted a vision for what is to come to this regional park. The COG is grateful for the many instrumental leaders, organizations, and groups that have led the region to this moment.

To follow the project along during the initial phase of construction click here to see project photos.

 


 

 Donations and Grants

To date, additional funding through grants and donations have been provided by:

 

  • $300,000 DCNR Development Grant which is earmarked for the “We Play Together” All-Ability Playground (December 2018).
  • $132,300 DCNR Development Grant for LED Sports Field Lighting (December 2019).
  • $100,000 DCED Greenways, Recreation, and Trails grant for the LED Sports Field Lighting project (September 2019).

    The Authority has received additional pledges and grants, including:

    ► $193,750 pledge from the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau for the lighting project;
    ► $50,000 donation from the Geisinger Foundation for the playground;
    ► $40,360 pledge from Ferguson Township for the landscaping plan;
    ► $30,000 donation of in-kind services from Stahl Shaeffer Engineering;
    ► $25,000 pledge from Fulton Bank toward the lighting project;
    ► $20,000 grant from USA Football for the lighting project;
    ► $15,000 pledge from First National Bank for the lighting project;
    ► $10,000 grant from the Truist Foundation for the playground;
    ► $10,000 donation from Sheetz for the lighting project;
    ► $10,000 pledge from Keystone 10M Trees for the landscaping plan;
    ► $10,000 pledge from First Energy Foundation for the playground;
    ► $8,625 from 2019 and 2020 Centre Gives for the playground;
    ► $5,000 grant from Autism Speaks for the playground;
    ► $5,000 donation from the Autism Opportunities Network, Inc. for the playground; and
    ► $3,098 in memorial donations for plants and benches for the Mascolo Gardens.
  • Plus, two additional grant applications are waiting for decisions, both of which should happen in 2022.

 

 How to Give

 


If any potential donor would like more information on this project or would like to schedule a meeting (virtual), please contact Kristy Owens, Director of Centre Region Parks and Recreation at kowens@crcog.net or 814-231-3071. This fundraising program has robust donor recognition options for you or your organization!