Westmont Hilltop School Board approved the school district’s entry into a peer-to-peer recreation study involving three West Hills municipalities at Thursday’s meeting.

“I think it’s a pretty momentous thing that we’re going to do,” board President Robert Gleason said.

The study, which would involve the school district, Westmont Borough, Upper Yoder Township and Southmont Borough, would serve as a rekindling of a similar commission that began roughly 50 years ago.

As of Thursday, Gleason said, Westmont Borough and Upper Yoder Township have also approved entry into the program, which will be funded with a $10,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development with a 10% local match.

That money will be used by the agency to hire a consultant who will work with a commission made up of at least one representative from each entity involved, although Gleason expects more than one to be appointed.

Gleason, who will serve as one of the spokespersons for the district, was involved with the former Westmont Hilltop Recreation Commission as president during his time as president of Westmont Borough Council.

He said that group fizzled out in the late 2000s, and when he took over as head of the school board, he contacted DCED to inquire about rebooting the effort.

Members of the new study will meet once or twice per month throughout the next year to discuss recreation possibilities for the Westmont Hilltop area, such as parks, trails and related facilities, and to examine other quality of life issues. The public will be tapped for input.

“At the end of the day, we want to do what the people want to do,” Gleason said.

He also noted the positive relationship the school district has with the surrounding municipalities.

“Community recreation is something that is lacking in our area and should be addressed if our area is going to continue to prosper,” district Superintendent Thomas Mitchell said during his report.

If all goes as planned, the study will be completed in the fall of next year and lead to the DCED funding the salary of a recreation director 100% for the first year, 75% the next and so on. The municipalities and district will cover the rest of the cost as it tapers off, Gleason said.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

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