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City gets closer to Miracle Field

A proposed Miracle Field in Steubenville has moved another step closer to becoming reality.

The project now rests with members of City Council after the Parks and Recreation Board during its Jan. 17 meeting gave approval to a revised plan that would see the facility built at Belleview Park.

A dream of the nonprofit Urban Frontier Organization and its executive director, Thom Way, the project would be a place where people with and without disabilities would be able to participate in activities in the same area. Its rubberized playing surfaces would help to prevent injuries to participants, and the playing area would offer a flat area free of barriers.

As envisioned, the complex, which will carry the theme “The Greatest Show,” would include zip lines and sensory play stations.

Such a facility would be a plus for the thousands of residents of the region who have disabilities, and would provide an option that is closer to home than existing complexes in Wheeling, Pittsburgh’s South Hills or Moon Township.

It was a project that appeared to be dead in March when concerns were raised about the original proposed location at North End Field. Chief among them was a lack of space to build the complex.

Way’s new plan would see the facility built in the park. It had been determined North End Field was no longer a feasible location because of site elevation variations that would have required a major earth-moving project.

While it’s encouraging that the field idea has come as far as it has, there still are questions to be answered before construction can begin. Chief among those is cost. Figures reported at the March meeting showed that Urban Frontier had already secured funding commitments of about 44 percent of the $2.6 million estimated cost. Where the money to cover the remainder will come from must be determined before work would be able to begin.

Changes also would be needed at Belleview Park, including the relocation of shelter houses and batting cages, and it isn’t clear if those renovations have been included in the project costs.

Because of that, we agree with 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul, who said he’ll need more information before he can make a decision, adding additional public input will be needed.

None of those questions appear, for now, to be insurmountable and planning to bring a Miracle Field to Steubenville should continue.

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