MERCER – Mercer County commissioners allocated more than $22,000 Thursday from the county’s share of shale gas fees for recreation and environmental projects.
Organizers of the Farrell/Wheatland Little League complex received $10,000 for upgrades to the facility including installation of an infield playing surface, work on the concession stand, flood-prevention measures and the replacement of unsafe fencing.
Farrell/Wheatland Little League plans to spend $35,438 on the project, including $10,000 from the city of Farrell, $5,000 from the Farrell Recreational Commission, $5,000 from private donations and service clubs and $1,000 from Little League fundraising, in addition to the county’s contribution. Work is expected to be done in June.
The commissioners approved a donation of $10,000 for improvements to a recreational area by the Hermitage Activities Building. Work calls for the installation of a musical instruments-themed play area at Lartz Playground, addition of a swing set and refurbishing another bank of swings set. Crews will remove a play set and swings as part of the project.
Additional funding for the $61,280 project includes $10,000 from the Winner Foundation, $10,000 from the Sharon American Legion, $8,500 from the JP/SS Family Foundation, $7,000 from the A.J. and Sigismunda Palumbo Charitable Foundation, $6,000 in private donations from individuals and service clubs. The project is expected to be finished in September.
Commissioners also earmarked $2,440 for the survey and examination into the effects of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination of the Lower Shenango River on amphibian populations. The study will determine if a wooded area along the river’s edge is polluted.
Shenango River Watchers will contribute $2,440 toward the $5,880 project, and Aqua America water utility will put in $1,000. The work is scheduled for completion in September.
Mercer County is pulling the $22,440 from its share of the natural gas drilling impact fee revenue, which can be designated for such uses. Commissioner Matt McConnell, board chairman, said in an interview that funding stream through state Act 13 is vital for such work.
“It’s critical,” he said. “These are really good projects. We’re thankful for the gas companies.”