80-acre park gains popularity for sports and family-friendly features
When H.R. Weaver Building Systems bought the Lebanon County land that would become Flightpath Park in the late 1990s, it never envisioned the park turning into a sports complex.
But that's what the 80-acre park, now with 13 businesses since the first building went up in 1999, is now known as: A family-friendly mecca of youth indoor and outdoor sports activities in South Londonderry Township.
It still has light industrial businesses, but the park has gained local and regional popularity for the variety of sports events it hosts and family-friendly activities it offers.
"We're still not really sure how it happened," said Chad Weaver, 41, president of H.R. Weaver Building Systems of Annville Township. "It was just a matter of one business feeding off the success of another until it happened. Now, we have thousands of families come through here every weekend."
When H.R. Weaver Building Systems bought a 40-acre tract in the late '90s, it envisioned the farmland just off Route 117 between Palmyra and Campbelltown someday becoming a vibrant, traditional business park. It is zoned for light industrial and manufacturing businesses and currently has five businesses that specialize in that type of work.
The park later added an adjacent 40 acres, including the 20 where the now-popular sports complex In the Net was built on Airport Road outside the park. The Weavers bought the land in 2002 at a sheriff's sale when the original owners of In the Net failed to open it, even though it was nearly complete.
"We're not exactly sports inclined," Chad Weaver said of H.R. Weaver, a residential and commercial building and development company. "We bought the building because the land was adjacent to our business park, not because we wanted to run a sports complex. We wanted to lease it to someone to take ownership of it. But here we are, and it's been great."
The In the Net complex has grown to an indoor-turf field house, two outdoor baseball fields and two outdoor multipurpose fields. Two companies — a strength-training fitness center and a rehabilitation facility — have moved into the building as well.
The complex hosted about six youth sports tournaments a year during its early years in the mid-2000s, each with about a dozen teams. This year, it will host about 30 sports tournaments, each with about 40 teams. It also hosted about 16 dog shows this summer, Weaver said, when the indoor facility isn't as popular as the outside fields.
Weaver said the interest grew for In the Net partly because of the success of Paramount Sports Complex, the first business to open in the park. Paramount's 20,000-square-foot indoor facility offers gymnastics, a multipurpose gymnasium, basketball, volleyball, weightlifting and other activities.
When In the Net also succeeded, other businesses followed — or plan to follow. In 2009, the Weavers opened Klick Lewis Arena, an indoor ice facility for hockey and ice skating.
Recent development also included Bounce U, a facility of children's bounce houses open to the public, and the Twistin' Pig family restaurant.
Company Dance plans to open Monday, relocating from Grayson Road in Harrisburg. Panko Performance, a basketball training facility run by former Lebanon Valley All-American and Bishop McDevitt High School basketball star Andy Panko, will open in summer 2014 to work around Panko's still-thriving international basketball career.
"(Flightpath Park) is really the premier recreation spot in the area," Panko said in an email from Spain, where he is preparing for the start of his season. "It offers a variety of facilities from baseball, soccer, lacrosse, hockey and ice skating to dance instruction and food — and will only keep growing."
Also under construction is the temporary site of the Palmyra Public Library, which will be without a home while Palmyra's borough building is redone. Next to the library will be the new home for Grudi Associates, a communications solutions company that plans to relocate from Main Street in Palmyra in the first quarter of 2014, according to company President Walt Grudi.
Even with the sports facilities, there are still some of the traditional light industrial companies common to business parks.
The two distinctly different worlds co-exist thanks to the dynamics of the sports events, which take place mostly at night and on weekends.
Scott Riggan, owner and president of Precision Paint & Media Blasting, another company in the park, said it would be a "nightmare" if the company had to deal with the sports-related traffic of the weekend.
"But it hasn't seemed to affect my company either way up to this point," he said. "I hope it remains that way."