Youngsters from the Devon Circle area of Springhouse Estates will have a new playground to enjoy next year, thanks to the initiative of neighbors and South Whitehall's Parks and Recreation Board.
The board, at its meeting Monday night, gave approval to a plan that would provide playground structure for ages 2-12, benches, signage and rules, additional buffer plantings along Route 22 and a doggie waste disposal station.
The plan will now go to the township commissioners for review and approval.
About 20 residents attended the meeting, most to show support for the play lot.
Barry Yeakel, whose property on Devon Drive would abut the site on the west, was among those in support of the playground. He said he wished it had been built when his children were young and could have taken advantage of it.
Opposed, though, was Rochelle Koehler of the 1300 block of Devon Circle. She expressed concerns about litter, dirt and noise; loss of privacy in her yard; the potential for vandalism and theft and a tax increase.
Chairman Gregg Spence quickly countered Koehler’s comment about taxes, calling upon assistant planner Gregg Adams to explain that money to finance the project would be taken from a fund earmarked for such purposes. The fund is supported by builders who are required to provide either money or land for recreation when they propose building in the township.
Board member Mark Ackerman said the size of the property would dictate the type of equipment to be built there. He said the area farthest east -- directly across from the Koehler residence -- was too narrow to allow any equipment.
The park idea gained momentum earlier this year, when Devon Circle resident Michelle Maurer approached the board about having a playground built on a two-plus-acre property bordered by Route 22 on the south. The board instructed her to poll her neighbors to see if they agreed with the idea.
Maurer collected signatures on a petition from 26 additional households, all supporting the proposal.
To gauge what residents wanted, the Parks and Recreation Board developed a survey offering everything from benches and a doggie waste disposal station to age-appropriate play equipment and exercise stations along a walking path. The project reflects the five largest vote-getters from the survey.
The new play lot could be in place next year.