HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — Pennsylvania is pumping millions of dollars into efforts to improve recreation across the Commonwealth.

The money will help pay for nearly 200 projects designed to create a better quality of life, and Homestead is one of the communities that is reaping the benefits.

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The state Thursday announced funding for that and other projects, including playground upgrades that can also control storm water flow.

One of the projects is a connector for cyclists in the Homestead area. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has announced a grant of $100,000 to hook the Great Allegheny Passage with the Borough of Homestead.

Borough Manager Ian McMeans says, “The connector will connect the avenue’s business district with the Gap Trail so that cyclists can have an easier access from the trail to our local businesses.”

That means cyclists will be able to visit shops and businesses in the 8th Avenue district while staying safe from Waterfront traffic.

Playgrounds are also getting some funding with McClean Playground about to get a makeover. Right now, much of it is concrete and isn’t the best place to play.

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“A third of the playground is just a concrete area with weeds and grass growing through it and it’s not utilized for anything,” McMeans says. “It’s fenced off for safety reasons. So we’ll be able to utilize that extra third of the playground where there’s nothing there right now.”

At Frick Park, some of the grant money will pay to replace playground equipment and install new climbing areas and natural play spaces for kids.

There’s more to the idea of natural, grassy play spaces than just making it fun and safe for kids. Those areas will also help capture and filter storm water runoff before it flows into Homestead’s sewer system and overflows into the Mon River.

“It’s great for kids in the community and it’s great for the region as a whole because Homestead is important in the system,” McMeans says. “Everything flows together locally, regionally to make some great projects for the area and we’re extremely excited to have this funding.”

The state says there were 430 applications for grant money and only a small portion of the demand was able to be funded.

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In addition to Homestead, West Homestead and the City of Pittsburgh are also receiving some grant money.