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South Middleton Township gets early look at sports complex proposal from CAEDC

This article appeared on Cumberlink.com on June 28, 2018. Read it here.

South Middleton Township supervisors took a look at preliminary sketch plans last week for a large sports and recreation facility proposed for the township by the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.

CAEDC proposes developing the former Otto farm tract with a sports complex that could include eight indoor courts, eight outdoor fields, a sports medicine provider, a restaurant and a hotel. The county most likely would partner with a private investor or investors to buy and build the site.

“This is a high-level sketch plan,” engineer Justin Doty of FSA Inc. told the board. “These plans could change 10 times in the next year. The ideas just keep growing. We’ve come here very early in the project.”

The 88-acre tract under consideration is on the south side of Lisburn Road and east of a planned connector road between Trindle and York roads in the township. Bony Dawood of Dawood Engineering recently said developers could have permits in hand this fall to begin construction on the connector road “if everything goes as planned.”

“The connector road is the driving force behind this (sports complex) project. We’re not proposing development (of the sports complex) until then,” Doty said Thursday.

CAEDC, a county-sponsored nonprofit agency, doesn’t actually construct projects. Instead, it works to facilitate tax breaks or other development incentives. The proposed facility would be privately owned and maintained, Doty said.

CAEDC chief executive officer Jonathan Bowser said on Thursday that the county agency commissioned a study by an out-of-town firm around two years ago to examine the market for youth sports facilities in the Carlisle/Harrisburg region. The study found that region has “lots of demand” for indoor and outdoor playing areas.

Since local teams usually get “first dibs” on using the area’s school and municipal sports facilities, the region “has lost a lot of opportunities for holding tournaments,” Bowser said. The proposed hotel and restaurant could be used by traveling teams, families and chaperones.

“You’ve excited the population with this idea. I’ve heard zero negative feedback about it,” Supervisor Tom Faley said Thursday.

Bowser said developers would like to “start earth moving by 2020” for the project, in addition to pursuing public funds for the work. “The interest is there. It’s just a matter of us putting all the pieces together,” he said.

Other action

In other news, supervisors will conduct a public hearing on July 26 on a conditional use application submitted by Akash Patel & Associates. The developer proposes building an 82-room hotel and a separate, 3,300-square-foot fast food restaurant near the intersection of Commerce Drive and Allen Road next to the Interstate 81 interchange.

The developer previously appeared before the township planning board on May 22, when officials requested a traffic study for the plan. Plans will be reviewed again by the planning board again before the public hearing next month.

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