In the spring of 2001, several citizens of the small village of Lowber in Sewickley Township began to discuss the need to provide recreational opportunities to the residents who lived in the close-knit village. Working with the township supervisors and a local business, they developed plans to renovate the Veteran’s Wall and design a playground and passive area for the community to enjoy.
The project progressed due to the committed leadership of Jared Filapose, chairman of the Sewickley Township Board of Supervisors and an employee of Basic Carbide. Basic Carbide donated a parcel of land for the playground area and the township applied to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Community Conservation Partnership Program for additional assistance, utilizing the land donation–worth $34,000–as a match to the project. This matching was crucial, because enabled the project to leverage actual dollars which were used to purchase and install playground equipment.
This project evolved into truly a community effort. Approximately 20 residents volunteered their time to construct the playground area, and township employees also contributed extensive labor. Bankson Engineers donated their professional services to design the space. Furthermore, the community raised approximately $5,000 in cash donations. With all of these in-kind, volunteer, professional services, and cash donations in place, the township was awarded a Keystone grant of $47,000 in 2002 and an additional $5,000 was amended to the contract in 2003. By 2004, the playground was completed.
Now, people come from all over Westmoreland County to use the top-notch facilities. Young people play and the older folks sit and relax. And the public-private partnership did not end after the construction of the site: to this day, the employees at Basic Carbine empty the garbage and make sure the site is clean.
“This truly was a community effort,” said Filapose. “We can not thank DCNR enough for their partnership to make this happen. It is amazing how everyone pitched in and did their part. It was a group working together for a common goal.”