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  • Writer's pictureDave Doll

A Whitpain Community Center? That's probably good, right?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023


July 2023

Did you know about the Whitpain Community Center?

Few Whitpain residents know about the Township’s plans for a Community Center at Centre Square Park. An anonymous donation in 2022 launched a project inside the walls of the township building. An RFP was created, initial plans formed, and consultants hired. But when big decisions are made, public input is important. Details matter. Of concern are the potential budget implications and the lack of transparency and public involvement.

What information is publicly available? The RFP and the proposal accepted from Phillips and Donovan contain some details, but little information about the Community Center project has been actively shared with the public. The documents indicate the Community Center will be built at Centre Square Park in the location of the current dog park.


If that happens, we believe the dog park will be moved to the small piece of township property along Arch Street Road, across from the main Mermaid Lake property (right next to the turnpike bridge). Using that parcel as a dog park was a possibility mentioned in the larger plan for the Mermaid property.


Why so much secrecy?

Decisions made without public notification and input may be faster to implement but can be very costly in the long run. We urge the Township Board of Supervisors to be more transparent regarding the Community Center.


Comparing this to previous public space initiatives for the Prophecy Creek Manor House, development of Centre Square Park, and the recent planning for the Mermaid property – each of those included public hearings, input, and visibility. Why would a project for a Community Center be less deserving of public input?


Background:

  1. Late 2022, Whitpain Township received a $10 million donation from an anonymous donor to build a community center.

  2. January 27. A Request For Proposal (RFP) was sent out to numerous firms, for the design and construction management of the center with a February 24 deadline for proposals. The RFP (not available online) indicated that a 30,000 to 40,000 square foot Community Center will be built at the current dog park in Centre Square Park. The desired facilities include: gymnasium with two full size courts, second floor walking trail, exercise room, multipurpose room, community room with kitchenette, restrooms, and office.

  3. April 13. Whitpain Wire post announced that a donation has been received and a consultant is being hired and stated: “Once the Township selects the team of consultants, they will help solicit key public input about the location of a potential new community center, amenities, and architectural style”.

  4. June 6. BOS approved Phillips & Donovan as the lead consultant. We understand that the consultant proposal (not available online) indicated the project site as the dog park and listed the essential project components, as outlined in the RFP. Per the post on the Township website from June 8:

· The Township received an unexpected $10 million donation specifically for the construction of a community center.

· The donor requested that their identity not be disclosed.

· The Township received over 20 responses to a request for proposals [and] selected Phillips & Donovan Architects to help design a community center.

· A final location for the community center has not been selected, but the current Dog Park is a prime candidate.

· If the Dog Park is selected, the Dog Park would be relocated.

· The consulting team will solicit public input from the community and possible user groups.

· The consultants will also ensure that the community center is economically sustainable.

5. Moving forward, the RFP includes a requirement for one Open House on the conceptual plan. However, this appears to be a presentation of a plan, not early-stage input. That seems rather weak, given the importance and longevity of this project. We would like the Board of Supervisors educate and engage township residents sooner rather than later.


To discuss with the Supervisors, please attend the monthly meetings on Aug.1 and/or Aug 15. 6pm at the Township Building

Join WRO: Click here.


To contact the Board of Supervisors, email: supervisors@whitpaintownship.org


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