Spikes debate continues in Peters

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Dozens of residents turned out to a Peters council meeting Monday to express their views about two thorny issues: whether footwear with spikes should be permitted on a new, $1.2 million athletic field and the unveiling of plans for a controversial development off Boyer Road.

Council members have gone back and forth the past few months over a decision to ban the use of spikes on a new artificial turf field in Peterswood Park. Council voted to ban the use of metal spikes at the field by the Peters High School cross country team in August, it said the following month they would reconsider the issue, perhaps to allow the use ceramic spikes.

The field is used primarily by the township's youth soccer groups and lacrosse teams, which wear shoes with rubber spikes, but the school district's cross-country team has always used metal spikes, and that team has used the field as a starting location for the past several years.

Council members agreed with a recommendation from the township parks and recreation board to uphold the ban, based on concerns that the use of spikes could decrease the usable life of the field.

The manufacturer of the turf, United Civil Contracting and Developers of Ohio, said the use of spikes that were shorter than three-eighths of an inch wouldn't void the warranty but could lessen the life of the field by two years.

The Peters Township Soccer Association, which contributed $240,000 to the artificial turf improvements, also objected to the use of spikes.

A Cross Country Booster Club representative, Barbara Wenn, said her group was harassed by a member of the soccer association and it felt they were being treated unfairly by the Parks and Recreation board.

"I am appalled, as a taxpayer, that they think they own this field and they can dictate who does and does not use it," she said of the soccer association.

"There was no harassment," said soccer board member Bill Raber.

Parks and recreation board member Jeff Crummie said the only issue was wear and tear on the field and that spikes are routinely banned on such fields for that reason.

Parks and recreation director Michele Harmel said she would work with the cross country team to determine a new starting area in the park, if necessary.

Council on Monday also unanimously granted final approval for phase one of the Whispering Pines housing development, including construction of the first 18 of 40 homes to be built on the 33-acre site.

In July, dozens of homeowners in the neighboring Woodlands development successfully lobbied council to reject a road that would have connected the two developments, due to concerns about traffic and safety.

But on Monday, council learned that a cul-de-sac separating the two developments would be considered temporary so that the developments could be connected in the future, if desired. Sidewalks and utility lines will be connected between the developments, according to the plans forwarded by developer Ted Taylor III.

Some residents continued to question why the development would access Boyer Road, rather than an arterial route, such as Bebout Road. Engineers have said the topography in the area would prohibit that.

"The planning has been abysmal for this development," said Woodlands resident Anthony Castellone, one of several people who have expressed concern that Boyer Road, a small residential street, would become little more than a highway ramp into the new development.

"We all realize that direct access [to Bebout] would be best," but it's not feasible, said township manager Michael Silvestri.

Also Monday, council:

• Approved a bond refinancing of up to $10 million due to lower interest rates. Financial adviser Michael McCaig said refinancing would save taxpayers almost $1 million with a 1.97 percent interest rate.

• Scheduled a public hearing for a zoning amendment addressing crematories for 7:30 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21. The proposed amendment would permit crematories as a conditional use in light industrial districts. The proposal can be read online at www.peterstownship.com, where those interested in speaking may register. Speakers also can register at the door, Mr. Silvestri said.

• Authorized a meeting between Mr. Silvestri and property owners on Jones Drive, a private road that links East McMurray Road and Route 19. Four homes and several businesses are located on the road and homeowners told council there are escalating problems with motorists using the street as a cut-through.

neigh_south - neigh_washington

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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