By Evan Brandt, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> More than just the winners will be announced at this year’s Pottstown Rumble volleyball tournament in Memorial Park.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has chosen Pottstown — and the volleyball Rumble — as the best place to unveil Pennsylvania’s new five-year Outdoor Recreation Plan.
“The event is being held in Pottstown because there are a number of ways the community and park connect to the priorities in the plan, including all of the things that the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation and Schuylkill River Heritage Area are doing to encourage citizens to play outdoors for health,” Christina Novak, director of the Office of Education, Communications and Partnerships for DCNR told The Mercury.
“The timing is also good related to the Rumble and the positive economic impact that has for the community; and Memorial Park, which is a nice facility that has received DCNR grant funding,” Novak wrote.
Ballfields and the reconfiguration of Memorial Park several years ago, along with the splash park there, were are partially funded by DCNR grants.
The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation also contributed to those projects and, more recently, has partnered with DCNR to further expand access to outdoor recreation, said David Kraybill, executive director of the foundation.
Both recent partnerships have been undertaken beneath the umbrella of the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee, which allowed six of the eight towns to share resources and hire “a circuit rider,” a kind of regional recreation coordinator who most recently helped in the establishment of a new park in North Coventry.
Funding from DCNR also helped establish the “mini-grants” the foundation awards each year to the eight municipalities are part of the regional planning commission which are used for park improvements.
“We’re pleased that so much of DCNR’s five-year plan focuses on being active,” Kraybill said. “And we’re excited about the opportunity to work with the agency on projects aimed at improving the health of people in the tri-county area.
Indeed, the five priorities outlined in the plan — health and wellness; local parks and recreation; tourism and economic development; funding and financial stability and resource management and stewardship— could well describe priorities in the greater Pottstown area.
The plan’s health and wellness priorities could easily have been taken from the Pottstown foundation’s web site.
They include: “continue to strengthen connections between outdoor recreation and health in communities;” and “encourage local communities to promote healthful transportation alternatives,” such as the new Walk and Bike Pottstown plan and the addition of bike racks to Pottstown’s PART buses.
In fact, the group making the announcement at center court at the Rumble on June 25, will start their day in Pottstown with a ride of roughly one mile on one of Pottstown’s signature yellow Bike Pottstown bicycles.
“This event will highlight the elements provided by outdoor recreation that are priorities in the plan – health and wellness; local parks and recreation; tourism and economic development; and care for our natural resources — and also will be fun,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
“We agree with the priorities outlined in the outdoor recreation plan,” said Kraybill. “We agree that access to and use of public parks by the people of Pottstown is a recipe for better health.”