Unity looks at rejoining rec program with Latrobe, Greater Latrobe School District

Jeff Himler, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
·3 min read

Mar. 6—Six years after taking its ball and going home, Unity hopes to return to a regional Latrobe area recreation program.

Negotiations are "on a fast track" for the township to return to the fold of the Latrobe-

GLSD Parks and Recreation program, Supervisor Mike O'Barto said.

The proposed move comes as supervisors are looking to expand recreation access for residents, including plans for handicapped-accessible improvements to a playground and to a lakeside trail next to the Unity municipal building.

O'Barto expressed hope that a vote on the recreation program could come soon. The township's agreement with the Greensburg YMCA to manage Unity's recreational offerings expires this month . Unity paid the Y $56,700 under the latest 1-year agreement.

"The Y is a great organization," O'Barto said. "They did well by us and we were good to them, but we just need a little bit more. We need more

amenities so our residents will be able to enjoy recreational activities."

He cited soccer fields as a resource that Latrobe-GLSD offers but the township lacks. Registration is underway for the Latrobe-GLSD spring youth soccer program, slated to begin in April at Latrobe's Cardinal Park. Latrobe also has a community swimming pool.

After a 10-year partnership, Unity pulled out of the area recreation organization at the end of 2014. That left Latrobe and the Greater Latrobe School District as major contributing partners.

"We're going to leave the past in the past and move forward with new thinking," O'Barto said. "There's new people involved.

"We're going to make this good for the community. For rec programs to exist, you need partnerships. I don't think anyone can do it on their own anymore."

Unity's expected financial contribution , which would be based on a per-capita figure, is among items being discussed among the parties, O'Barto said.

"It's going to be a fair amount" that would not increase township taxes, he said.

Latrobe-GLSD Executive Director Craig Shevchik is optimistic about Unity returning.

"We've been meeting almost weekly," he said. "We're excited to continue the conversation, and we're working on getting an agreement and bylaws so we can move forward."

He said the proposed agreement would be reviewed by the solicitors of all involved parties — including Youngstown , which is part of the school district.

If the parties approve, Shevchik said, Unity residents no longer would be charged a higher fee, about $5 or

$10 extra, to participate in

Latrobe-GLSD programs.

"It makes sense to have one recreation department for all of the residents of the Greater Latrobe area," Shevchik said. "It offers opportunities to expand our programming."

He noted having a partnership can increase chances for grant funding, while enhanced recreational resources are a factor in attracting new residents.

"I think pooling our resources for a regional approach to recreation just makes sense," said Latrobe Mayor Rosie Wolford. "I think everybody is on board."

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@triblive.com or via Twitter .