Pine considering assessing need for improvements at community center

Pine officials are considering hiring a firm to conduct an in-depth review of the community center’s past to see if changes may be needed for the future.

The township has received proposals from two companies to conduct an assessment of the facility, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

Jan Kowalski, the township’s director of finance, said such an assessment could help guide the township as it tries to adjust programs so they can be conducted while adhering to safety guidelines needed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The review also could help the township adjust its programs, and even the physical space, to better serve the community.

“Like any facility, almost from the first day it opens, there’s always a sense of we should have done this or we could have done that,” Kowalksi said. “That was the case with our yoga rooms, which from the very beginning were too small.”

Mark Edelmann of EPM Architecture in Bradford Woods, which submitted one of the proposals to perform the assessment, said it is “fairly typical” for municipalities to conduct an assessment at the 10-year-mark to evaluate whether changes are needed to ensure their facilities are being fully utilized.

“Community and recreation centers morph,” said Edelmann, whose company designed community centers in Ross and Upper St. Clair. “We take a big picture view of how it is designed, how it’s been used and what people want.”

Kowalski said that’s just what happened with the teen lounge that was incorporated into the community center when it first opened.

“Use of the teen lounge hasn’t been what was expected,” she said. “So now we use the space for spin bikes.”

Edelmann said “flexibility” is critical when designing recreation and community centers, which is one shortfall that exists in Pine.

“The main space in the Pine Community Center is a large gym and several small meeting rooms,” he said. “But the trend in programs, the things people want, often require studio-type spaces, which Pine really doesn’t have. They’ve had to use the meeting rooms that are available, but the spaces don’t work very well.”

To create more options, things such as movable walls can be added to adjust for the space needed for a particular program, he said.

He said the operators of the Bethel Park Community Center, which was built with movable walls, were quickly able to convert a large meeting space into smaller areas that are being used for child daycare during the pandemic.

“You don’t want to design spaces in public facilities that can only be used for a singular purpose,” Edelmann said. “Municipal centers need to be flexible so that multiple programs can be conducted in one place.”

The second proposal to conduct the assessment was submitted by Ballard King and Associates, which is based in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Township supervisors are expected to discuss the proposals during their work session at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 21.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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