City Guide: Best of the 'Burbs

City-centric? Here’s a compass to lead you on a journey to some happening suburban communities — north, south, east and west.

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The striking appearance of Upper St. Clair High School matches the district’s shining reputation.

With a two-year-old $28 million recreational complex along Boyce Road, this prestigious South Hills address close to the Washington County line border continues to go big.

This community of spacious colonial homes with verdant, rolling lawns was recently ranked as the state’s No. 1 school district for the sixth straight year, based on students’ scores on the statewide PSSA exams. The high-school campus, rising like the Starship Enterprise at the corner of Washington and McLaughlin Run roads, was expanded and renovated in 2000.

The district followed that project with reconstruction of all three elementary schools and two middle schools—the latter to be completed this year. Now, community discussions center on new uses for the former Consol Energy campus on Washington Road.

When the community of 19,000-plus began to explore options for a new community center 12 years ago, its plans were equally expansive. The result is a fitness center that apes the curve of the high-school building. Even outsiders happily pay membership fees to use its indoor and outdoor water parks, track and trails, fitness centers, gyms and other amenities.

“There’s nothing like it in the state,” says Paul Besterman, USC recreation director. “We worked on it for 10 years before it opened.” The 90,000-square-foot facility, located on 475 acres in the township’s Boyce Mayview Park, pays all operating costs through the sale of memberships. Some 9,000 folks—28 percent of them from outside the township—now use the center. A family can purchase an annual pass for $82.

Ten miles of trails, winding past community sports fields, are hard-scaped for cycling or walking. Annual events include an Earth Day Extravaganza, fall festival and kids’ triathlon. “What’s really cool is that we meet all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards,” says Besterman. “We’re working with the school district’s SNAP (special-needs adaptive program) to get everyone to participate.”

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