City panel talks about river trail in Pa. 400 block

Discussions continue regarding a proposed walkway and overlook along the 400 block of Pennsylvania Ave. W.

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. An overlook has also been proposed to be located between Hazel and Laurel streets, across from St. Joseph Church.

City Planner David Hildebrand gave an update to the Parks and Recreation Commission during its meeting on Tuesday.

Hildebrand said that he met with Wes Ramsey of the Conservation District, who was instrumental in the installation of overlooks at the Big Bend Recreation Area near Kinzua Dam.

“He gave us an idea of how those were constructed,” said Hildebrand. “(We) came back from that trip with a good idea of what it will take” to complete that component of the project.

He estimated total cost of the project at approximately $100,000 and informed the commission that city staff will contact the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission as well as the PA Wilds, Lumber Heritage program and a watershed grant education program for potential funding. Local foundations will also be contacted.

“The DCNR grant is due in April (with the) others in that vicinity,” he said. “The plan is to put the grant applications out to the different entities, talk to the different foundations and go forward with that.”

Holtz said that the crushed limestone trail “isn’t cheap.” He estimated the cost of the trail alone at $40,000 “and the overlook is going to be $50,000.”

“This is a piece of park property across from General Joseph Warren Park so we’ve had various interests in trails and in putting in benches so that people could view the river,” said City Administrator Mary Ann Nau. “Then it mushroomed into an overlook, maybe even access from that point to the river somehow.”

Hildebrand said that the project is also a “good spot for birding individuals.” Additionally, he said, the city arborist indicated that natural vegetation could be enhanced in the area.