“Let’s talk about this awesome park,” Rodney Eberly, Antrim Township’s road master and parks director, said on a sunny summer morning at Antrim Township Community Park.
It was weekday, but there were a good many people walking and biking the paved trail, kids playing on equipment, dogs frolicking in the dog park and two part-timers busy mowing the grass at the park off Grant Shook Road.
On weekends, the numbers can reach 500 to 600 as USSSA softball tournaments draw players and supporters from up and down the East Coast. They join local residents enjoying other park features including pavilions, Whispering Falls Disc Golf Course, mountain biking trails and a gaga ball pit. Trails lead to the nearby Martin’s Mill covered bridge and park, a popular site with people kayaking, canoeing or tubing on the Conococheague Creek.
The park was conceived in 1995, funded by a combination of landfill tipping fees, grants and developers, who could either set aside land for recreation in their subdivisions or pay a recreation fee.
It is accessible to developments including Melrose Meadows and Brookside by a shared use trail that runs almost the whole way to the Borough of Greencastle, pending the development of one undeveloped tract of land.
“It’s an ongoing process, we do a little here and there,” said Eberly.
For example, the township is now working to figure out the best way to put markers on the trail at one-10th mile intervals so people know how far they’ve gone.
“There’s a lot of thought put into everything here,” Eberly said. “We work with the park committee and talk everything through then make recommendations to the supervisors.”
For the dogs
One area of concern has been the dog park and maintaining grass in the shale soil. This year’s rains have been a big help and mushroom soil, used to enhance the athletic fields, is also being used at the dog park.
The park is divided into two areas, one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. In the evenings, there are up to 20 dogs on each side.
Last Tuesday morning, Rosemary and Todd Smith of State Line were visiting the dog park for the first time with their granddog, Cooper. (They are keeping Cooper for daughter, Laura Ashley Smith, while the physician assistant is stationed with the military at Fort Polk, Louisiana.)
“It’s beautiful here,” Rosemary Smith said.
Cooper was soon joined by Mulligan, an Australian shepherd, and Cheree, Jerry, Andrew and Michelle Pinkard. In addition to the dog park. The Pinkards also walk Mulligan on the trails in the rest of the park, where dogs must be on a leash.
Yuki, a German shepherd-Eskimo spitz owned by Mike and Mary Bock, also is a regular dog park romper and trail walker.
“I try to come out every day and let her run and tire out in the dog park and then take a walk,” Mike Bock said. “I’m so impressed with this place. My dog and I have been all over the trails. Everything — not just what you can see — is so good.”
Antrim Township Community Park features 36 acres that are mowed and treated, as well as about 100 acres that are wooded, wild and wetlands. Part-timers Dick Yohn and Lee Stoops spend about two days a week mowing the grass.
Stoops lives across from the park and also takes care of opening it at 8 a.m. and closing it at dusk.
The park also features five baseball/softball fields; six soccer fields; two tennis courts; one half and one full basketball court; two pavilions that are normally booked on weekends during the summer; a concession stand run by Della Koons of Waynesboro, mainly during tournaments, with a portion of the proceeds going to the park; and two restroom buildings.
The gaga ball pit, horseshoe pits and, most recently, four benches made from wood salvaged when Martin’s Mill Bridge was restored, are all Eagle Scout projects.
The Whispering Falls Disc Golf Course was put in 10 years ago and is still maintained by the Lescalleet family. With tee box and pin placements, it now plays 72 holes.
The mountain biking trails also are a community project done by volunteers who really think about the design and keeping erosion in mind, Eberly said.