River walk trail proposed in city

Two City of Warren committees are working together to highlight the natural beauty flowing through town.

At Monday’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Street Landscape Committee introduced a proposal for a walking trail along the Allegheny River.

The proposal calls for a crushed limestone walking trail and possibly other improvements along the north side of the river west of Hickory Street almost to Chestnut Street.

City Planner David Hildebrand and Arborist Bruce Robinson detailed the proposal.

The city recently replaced several declining trees along Pennsylvania Avenue in that area. The work in that area got people thinking.

“We looked at a trail and… an overlook,” Hildebrand said. “Cutting back some vegetation to enhance some other vegetation to attract birds” could “make it a bird sanctuary.”

The proposed site of the overlook is between Hazel and Laurel streets – across from St. Joseph Church.

“It would be quite an enhancement from what it is now,” Hildebrand said.

The trail would be similar to walking trails installed at Crescent, Beaty and Betts parks and would tie into the “Walkable Warren” idea.

“This type of a trail would enhance and build on that,” he said. “In the long range, there’s been some talk of trying to connect some of those trails.”

It also fits with the city’s greenways plan and would be eligible for funding that is available for greenways projects.

According to City Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz, a crushed limestone trail costs about $40 per foot. The proposed path would be about 1,000 feet long, giving a trail cost of about $40,000.

Grants from private foundations and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources could help fund the project.

“Occasionally, opportunities present themselves to enhance the parks – for people and birds,” Robinson said. “It’s amazing how much bird activity there is along the Allegheny River.”

“This is a multi-project opportunity to make this better, particularly for migratory birds,” he said. “This is a natural corridor for migratory birds.”

“Our vision is to isolate the vegetation that is ideal for birds – for example, staghorn sumac – and we would like to increase some vegetation that would provide the low-conifer cover,” Robinson said. “There are many future opportunities. It’s a unifying concept for a park.”

Mark Davis of the Street Landscape Committee said other organizations – the Jamestown Audubon Society, the Warren County Conservation District, and the Penn State Cooperative Extension – are interested in participating.

“We should take advantage of the river and build an overlook in this city,” committee member Mary Conarro said. “This would be a great enhancement.”

The members of the Parks and Recreation Commission were enthusiastic.

“It sounds like a wonderful project,” Judi Wilson said.

“This is a really good idea,” Jackie Angove said. “You can almost see an overlook. How perfect.”

“I think we all agree we want to move forward,” chairman Denny Crandall said.

“A next step on this would be some kind of rendering – come back with a layout and a size,” Hildebrand said. “We’ve built several of these crushed limestone trails before.”

Crandall asked city officials to bring proposals to the committee’s February meeting. “I don’t think it’s anything we want to send to council, yet,” he said. “We’ll keep it on our agenda.”