HARRISBURG – Three Armstrong County projects and two Indiana County projects received a total of $1,192,800 in funding as part of a $90 million effort to assist more than 330 projects across Pennsylvania focused on creating new recreational opportunities, conserving natural resources and helping revitalize local communities, according to Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) and Reps. Abby Major (R-60) and Jim Struzzi (R-62).
The lion’s share of the overall funding – $710,000 – is for the design of the Kiski Bridge rehabilitation project.
Built in 1899 to span the Kiski River in Gilpin Township, Armstrong County, the bridge and 14 miles of the former Kiski Junction Railroad are being developed into a trail, maintained by Armstrong Trails. They will connect 130-plus miles of continuous, off-road, ADAcompliant trails in Armstrong, Allegheny, Butler, Clarion and Westmoreland counties. It also will connect to other trails, including the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail.
“Outdoor recreation and trails have provided a major spark to the economies of many communities throughout Pennsylvania,” said Pittman. “The bridge and trail connections this project will create will help to attract more tourism and important economic activity to the small towns along the Kiski and Allegheny rivers, such as Freeport, Leechburg, Gilpin, Ford City and Kittanning.”
Another $71,500 in funding will be used for the rehabilitation of Gilpin Leechburg Park, Gilpin Township. The work will include construction of a pedestrian walkway, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts and parking area; installation of fencing; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
South Buffalo Township, Armstrong County, will receive $70,000 for the rehabilitation of the township’s Northpointe Park, with the work to include construction of a pedestrian walkway and parking area; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
“I’m happy to support these three worthwhile projects,” Major said. “It is important for there to be recreational opportunities easily available in order to encourage people, and especially children, to go outside and exercise. Too many people are missing the outdoor offerings readily available in our area. The pandemic reduced personal interactions. I’m hopeful these upgrades will promote more connections.”
In Indiana County, $250,000 will be used to support the rehabilitation of the existing Westmoreland Heritage Trail, which stretches from the West Penn Trail in Saltsburg Borough through Loyalhanna Township, Westmoreland County, to the Rangos Trailhead in Salem Township, Westmoreland County.
And the Indiana County Conservation District (ICCD) will use a $91,300 grant for the development of Canopy Walk in White Township.
“When completed, the Canopy Walk is going to be a unique regional asset and opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation and benefit from environmental education,” Struzzi said. “The project also creates a partnership between the ICCD, the Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC) and the newly-constructed Westmoreland County Community College Indiana Education Center.”
“This project will enable the district to provide everyone, regardless of circumstance, access to the outdoors, while educating our visitors about the importance of conserving natural resources. This ADA-accessible trail will feature pervious pavement that leads to a raised walkway where users can gain a unique view into the canopies of trees,” said ICCD Executive Director Doug Beri. “In an effort to blend our skilled trades with conservation, carpentry students from the ICTC will construct the raised walkway. This project is an important component in the overall educational programming of our new facility that currently features rain barrels, rain gardens, community gardens, and a demonstration hop farm.”
“With the increased number of people who have taken to the outdoors for recreation as a result of the pandemic, these grants serve as true investments in our communities,” Pittman added. “They help attract to our area outdoor enthusiasts who are frequently looking for a new challenge, who in turn tell their friends, which translates into increased benefits for local tourism.”
The grants are administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program. Funding comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of Pennsylvania’s realty transfer tax; the Environmental Stewardship Fund; the ATV/Snowmobile Fund generated through fees for licenses; and federal monies.
Contacts: Jeremy Dias (Sen. Pittman) firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracy Polovick (Rep. Major) Tpolovick@pahousegop.com
Scott Little (Rep. Struzzi) Slittle@pahousegop.com