LEWISBURG — The Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority is thinking about a name change.

For several months, the authority board has discussed becoming the "Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority," said board chairman Trey Casimir.

"It's to reflect our expansion, with our involvement with the (Buffalo Valley Rail Trail)," he told the Lewisburg Borough Council last week. "It could also open the door to our neighbors. We don't want to give off an unnecessarily Lewisburg-centered vibe."

The change also would reflect the growing use of LARA programs by those who live outside Lewisburg and East Buffalo Township, which make up the authority.

But a recreation authority by another name may not smell so sweet.

Though East Buffalo officials have given an enthusiastic response -- the board of supervisors passed a resolution a few months ago endorsing the name change -- the borough council gave Casimir a tepid response last week.

And changing the name might not entice other municipalities to join -- and help defray the authority's costs.

"Does the board feel it's hindered by the name?" asked Councilman John Baker. "Because participation doesn't seem to indicate so."

LARA has around 2,500 families registered on its online system, said Recreation Coordinator Katie Davis. And multiple household members have registered for events throughout the year.

"My best estimate is that we get around 3,000 yearly participants registering for LARA programs," she said in an e-mail. "Events include the triathlon, kids triathlon, gymnastics programs, Hershey Track & Field event, punt pass & kick event, Lewisburg Lights 5K, Doggie Dips, summer camp, and the plethora of programs we offer in our leisure guide."

A few other council members weren't so keen on giving up the name Lewisburg.

"The question you'll get is, 'Buffalo Valley? Where is that?'" Councilman Mike Molesevich said. "And most people who live in Kelly Township or East Buffalo Township say they live in Lewisburg."

Councilman Ed Cox agreed.

"It's a point of reference," he said. "And it does say 'area.'""

Mayor Judy Wagner told the council that if a name change could entice other municipalities to join, it might be worth thinking about.

"It opens the door to others," she said, "so they are considered on even footing when they enter."

East Buffalo Township officials said changing the name would be an excellent idea.

Supervisor Jim Buck, who is the board's representative to LARA, said the organization's programs draw people from beyond the township and the borough. But it's only the township and borough offering any monetary support.

The amount given by each municipality is based on the tax rate of 0.154 mills. That means the borough contributes about $25,000 to $26,000 per year and the township gives between $65,000 and $66,000 per year.

That constitutes about 20 percent of LARA's operating budget.

However, the LARA board has requested for several years an extra infusion of cash from each municipality to erase the red ink in its budget. LARA officials are looking at ways to keep this from happening, either through increasing the tax rate, fundraising or — hopefully —bringing on another municipal partner.

There was an additional partner at one time. Kelly Township was a part of LARA when it was first created, but left the organization after a few years, Casimir said.

He was appointed to the LARA board in 2006, after that, but based on what he's read in Union County's recreation section, money was the issue.

"Kelly decided it wanted to marshal its recreation resources on their own for their own purposes," Casimir said.

Kelly Board of Supervisor Chairman David Hassenplug declined to comment on the reasons the township joined and left LARA.

And he indicated changing the name of the organization wasn't much of an issue.

"I've always said in the past, I would never dismiss the possibility of revisiting joining LARA," he said. "Now, that's not saying that's a decision or anything. I think it would first be important to look at what they want to offer."

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