By Dennis Keyes Photography
Since late October 2021, a small army of volunteers has been clearing the former railroad corridor north of the Rt. 58 bridge, with help from several local businesses. As the ground thaws and dries out a bit, we will continue to clear the entire first mile of the trail corridor up to the border with Richland Township. Stormwater drainage piping and trenches will be repaired, and a silt sock installed at the top of the riverbank to keep mud and silt out of the river while we shape the land and build the trail. All this preparation is the background for the main event – building the actual trail, including its final asphalt surface similar to the trail north of Emlenton, and the south end of Foxburg. Building the trail depends on major funding from DCNR – whose deadline for seeking grants is April 6 once and only once a year. DCNR will decide on grants late in 2022, and construction can begin early in 2023.
By April 6, we will have uploaded a full grant application seeking approximately $500,000 to do everything budgeted by the engineers and designers to finish this mile of trail. DCNR gets hundreds of these applications each year, and only about 40% are granted, thus it is a very competitive process. That’s where you come in. DCNR requires a concrete showing of major public support for a grant, in the form of at least a 20% match for the grant. Here, if the grant request is $550,000 once final updated budgeting is in, the required minimum match is $110,000. The match must be in written commitments of cash, volunteer labor, volunteer equipment, and/or volunteer materials and services from businesses. The written commitments must be supplied by April 6, not later.
We already have assembled substantial cash commitments, but we still have a ways to go in the next three weeks to meet our match goal. To help us, you can:
• Mail us a check, or make a credit card payment on the Donate Page of our website, www.artincc.org.
• Write and sign a simple letter committing to donate X dollars when the grant is awarded, or the contract signed between DCNR and ARTinCC. (add your address, email, and phone number so we can acknowledge your commitment). E-mail the signed letter to us to upload with the application.
• Write and sign a letter committing to donate Y dollars spread out over up to 4 years of the construction contract – such as 1/4 of the total when the contract is signed, and the other ¾ in annual payments on that anniversary.
• Our website has model letters to use under the Grant Match Tab. Please add a sentence or two in your own words as to why you are making this commitment since DCNR does not like purely form letters.
• The simplest way to get help is to call or e-mail ARTinCC Pres. Bob Jennings, 412-721-7615, BobJennings1@embarqmail.com, or Denny Keyes, 724-679-1055, email@example.com.
• E-mail your signed letter if possible, but at least email your unsigned letter, and mail the signed copy to Bob Jennings, P.O. Box 325, Foxburg, PA 16036.
Volunteer Labor Commitments:
DCNR will give ARTinCC some match credit for written commitments of volunteer labor to be used during the construction contract. A model letter is on our website, again under Grant Match Tab. Same details as above about emailing or contacting us for help.
· The letter is simple, such as “I’m an able-bodied adult, and want to help build the trail if my health holds up. (Say if you have already been a volunteer). If asked, I commit to giving X hours per month during the 8 months per year during which construction is likely, during the 4 years of the contract. For example, 2- 4 hour shifts per month for 8 months = 64 hours per year, time 4 years = 256 hours total. Of course, you can commit to less or more; your time is valued at a national hourly volunteer rate close to $30 per hour.
Volunteer Equipment Commitment:
DCNR also will give ARTinCC some match credit for written commitments to make heavy equipment available for needed construction tasks. This includes excavators, backhoes, trailers, tractors, skidsteers, wood chippers, dump trucks, etc.; these are valued the same as FEMA reimbursement rates for municipalities that use heavy equipment on a local disaster. A model letter is on our website under the Grant Match Tab. The key is to identify the specific equipment including model number, and key specs such as bucket size, tonnage for a dump truck, etc., so we can tie it to a vehicle listed on the FEMA spreadsheet.
Written Commitments of Materials or Business Services:
Finally, DCNR will give us some match credit for written commitments of donated materials or business services to be used for specific tasks during the construction. Examples include raw lumber for guardrails, signposts, grass seed, topsoil and mulch for final shoulders for the trail, landscaping services, limestone and gravel for a base for the final paving, and new ditches, etc.
Public support for ARTinCC’s efforts has been increasing over the past year. This is your last chance to do so in a concrete way that really matters before the April 6 filing deadline – contact us before the end of March so we have time to upload everything to DCNR’s website before the April 6 deadline. If we meet or exceed our required match, it shows the public truly is behind us and might persuade DCNR to fund this construction. If we do not meet our match, there may be no grant award. Please call or e-mail if you can help us. We recently posted to our website a list of the Supporters – both businesses and individuals – who have meaningfully supported us to date. Please check out the list and praise these Supporters, and help us out now so we can add you to this list when updated.