Two outdoor fitness stations planned at Cranberry parks

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Nurturing a sense of community spirit while promoting the physical fitness of Cranberry's parks patrons are the dual goals of the 2014 "project of the year" for the township's unofficial nonprofit partner: the Cranberry Township Community Chest.

Outdoor fitness centers that will allow multiple users of exercise equipment designed to withstand Pennsylvania's four seasons will be constructed at two of the township's three large parks: Graham Park off of Rochester Road and North Boundary Park, along North Boundary Road.

Bruze Mazzoni, a CTCC board member who chairs the project of the year initiative and who also is chairman of the township board of supervisors, said about half the project cost already is in hand for the effort, which will begin in the spring.

Cranberry manager Jerry Andree praised the latest CTCC project. "It's another awesome statement about community support for the quality of life for our residents and is absolutely consistent with the community's vision that includes supporting an active and healthy population," he said.

Previous CTCC community projects of the year have included the 2011 electronic community sign at the corner of Routes 19 and 228, the 2012 Centennial Scouting Plaza and Fishing Lake in Graham Park, and the 2013 Kids Castle Playground in Community Park.

The idea for the outdoor fitness stations was sparked about three years ago, when Mr. Mazzoni encountered an "exercise trail" while visiting another locale. The trail involved fitness stations arranged in a linear fashion, designed to accommodate a single user on equipment made of a combination of wood and metal.

The concept was embraced by CTCC board members but was refined by Cranberry Parks and Recreation Director Pete Geis, who suggested an approach that would build community spirit as well as physical muscle.

Mr. Geis' idea was to create fitness stations that would cluster the exercise equipment, allowing multiple users at the same time. "All of a sudden, the project went beyond physical fitness to encouraging more of a social network," Mr. Mazzoni said. While such outdoor fitness centers are in place in warm-weather states, Mr. Mazzoni said CTCC could find no evidence of them anywhere in Pennsylvania. But, a contractor has been found who will build nonelectronic equipment that can withstand the weather.

The new equipment will be in place for the July 10 start of 2014 Community Days festivities.

Mr. Mazzoni said the exercise machines will be similar to those used at indoor fitness clubs. They'll feature machines that will focus on specific muscle groups designed to build core body strength, agility, and flexibility, relying on the user's body weight for resistance. Unlike traditional fitness trails, which generally can accommodate only one user per piece of equipment at a time, these stations would promote socializing by clustering machines such that as many as four people could use the same piece of equipment at a time.

Mr. Mazzoni said the project would cost more than $335,000 for purchase and installation by contractors. However, CTCC's involvement -- in partnership with the township and other civic groups -- reduces the cost to $200,000 by using township property, township staff and volunteers.

Already, about half the project cost is in hand, Mr. Mazzoni said, reflecting CTCC's financial commitment of $75,000 in combination with pledges from the local business, church and nonprofit community. The balance of the donations needed will be solicited through a combination of direct mailings and personal contacts from neighborhood "ambassadors."

While the final number of machines and stations will be determined based on the success of the fundraising effort, Mr. Mazzoni said there will be a single large cluster of equipment in North Boundary Park then three smaller clusters of equipment in Graham Park, one each at the baseball, soccer and football campuses within the park. The equipment will be constructed atop concrete slabs.

"Basically, these will be free gyms for anyone who comes to parks," Mr. Mazzoni said.

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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