The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 19, 2014

Grant secured for upgrades to park

JOHNSTOWN — Officials with the Brownstown Recreation Commission are looking to take to the field this spring, playing with newly acquired grant money that will go toward a host of improvements and additions at Brownstown Recreation Park.

Through John Dubnansky, county grants facilitator, and three years worth of fundraising efforts, the commission is able to pump a $25,000 grant from the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission and a matched amount of fundraiser dollars into the park facilities.

“With all the additions and modifications that we’re doing, I think the beauty of the park is there’ll be different aspects of it,” said commission secretary Bob Vamos. “People of any age and any gender will be able to find something to accommodate their likings.”

A new nature walking trail, a new beach volleyball court, a new driving range for golfers, a new baseball batting cage, replacement of the outfield baseball fence, finishing touches on the outdoor roller hockey rink and additional handicapped accessible parking are all part of the project. Vamos estimated the work will get underway in March or April.

Vamos said between Little League practice games, softball tournaments and others who enjoy the walking track or newly built playground, the park averages 600 to 800 visitors during the warmer months. With these improvements, he said the commission hopes to double those numbers.

“This isn’t just good for Brownstown, this is good for the surrounding community. ... It keeps people in the area. It keeps people healthy,” said Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky, who connected the commission with Dubnansky two years ago.

Chernisky said after initial seed money was planted in the park’s roller rink – with assistance from Mike Kane, president of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies – Vamos and commission President Ray Peel approached him with some bigger ideas.

“They had a vision of what they wanted to do with the park and they did all the heavy lifting,” he said.

Between a thrust of fundraising and a final cash donation push from a local volunteer fire company for $2,500, the commission was able to match the Southern Alleghenies grant and get the ball rolling on the updated facilities.

“I’m really excited about all of them,” Vamos said.

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/JustinDennis.

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