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Sports spot to be shelved

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm

The future of building an athletic complex in the county will land on the leadership of Westmoreland County after the developer who proffered the Westmoreland Youth Athletics Complex now says that he will not be constructing the highly anticipated facility.

The signage advertising for a proposed sports complex in Westmoreland County will soon come down following the developer’s statement that he will not be constructing the complex.

“The building of the complex is not going happen anytime in the foreseeable future,” said developer Rich Ward, of Ellis Land LLC. “In listening to the residents of Westmoreland County…they wanted better schools and better athletic facilities. While one project could not solve all of the county’s concerns, we tried to address one of them.”

Ward said that the economic fallout experienced several years ago has prohibited the development of the park which would have been located in the heart of Westmoreland County on the south side of Route 3 across from Westmoreland State Park.

“I don’t know how to categorize a global economic downturn and a real estate crash of 2008,” Ward said.

Ward said that he had hoped to meet Westmoreland County citizens’ desires for a place for their kids to play baseball and soccer.

“Obviously team sports have a huge impact on children’s lives,” Ward added. “As a developer your primary goal is to make money at your business, but it can be philanthropic at the same time—a win, win—and it just didn’t work out that we could do it.”

Attracting public attention to the now off-the-table complex was a proposed auction last year. However, due to the issues the parcel presented with the state department of environmental quality and the county’s land use administration, the land did not go up for bid. Ward Ellis Land LLC still owns the land and the company would consider selling the parcel.

Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi said the county is not considering purchasing the land.

“We looked at the possibility, we just simply determined that was not a prudent step,” said Risavi.

In the meantime, the county has taken on two other infrastructure projects. The county’s industrial development authority recently signed off on a financing plan for a new, $9 million judicial center and the county has purchased 104 acres of land tapped for a new high school.

The county still has four years before they completely pay off the land on Kings Highway, located on the east side of the Route 3 East next to the Chandlers’ property.

Risavi said the parcel has the possibility of housing a similar athletics complex. Risavi said he expects a committee to begin exploring options for the land later this fall.

“The [board of supervisors] is currently in the process of establishing a committee to interview the respondents to the [request for proposal] for developing a strategic plan.  Once the selection is made and the process moves forward I suspect that this will be one of the components to the process,” Risavi said.