DCED Awards Funds To Design Master Plan For Foxburg Park
By Robert L. Jennings, Jr.
Allegheny River Trail in Clarion County, Inc. (ARTinCC) is pleased to report that the week of Sept. 19th, the State Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), through the Commonwealth Finance Authority (CFA) awarded funds to ARTinCC to develop a professional Park Master Plan for the multi-acre public park to be built just north of Rt. 58 in Foxburg, extending down to the river’s edge. ARTinCC sought $27,000 to fund a formal proposal by Mackin Engineering, one of the most prominent small park designers in western PA for parks next to rivers and streams. ARTinCC sought $27,000, and DCED awarded 85% of that, or $22,950; the remaining 15% will be supplied by ARTinCC’s match commitment of $4,050. ARTinCC bought the land for the park in late 2021, which included the beginning of the bike trail from Foxburg to Emlenton, with substantial funding from the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Over the past year, an army of local volunteers and companies, have spent over 900 hours clearing and prepping the land, in the hope that this and other grants would be awarded. The grant, over the coming months, will allow a professional to help guide the decision-making on how the land can be used to best benefit the public. At the same time, ARTinCC will be putting into motion a large DCNR grant awarded several weeks ago for the construction of the first mile of the bike trail. Both of these grants are a result of the consistent and strong support of local officials, including Rep. Oberlander, Sen. Hutchinson, the Foxburg Borough Council, County Commissioners Tharan, Brosius, Heasley, others in Clarion and Venango counties, and numerous local businesses, including the Foxburg Chamber of Commerce. Without this longstanding and vocal support, a small community like Foxburg may have had no chance to compete with much larger and more populous communities.
The Master Plan for the public park follows the requirements of State Agencies that a formal process is followed to reach out to all sectors of the public to identify needs and wants, then combine past experience, and evaluate what the land and its topography will permit. The Plan covers necessary permits and consultations, such as with PennDOT, and results in a formal report with recommendations, budget estimates of costs based on similar past projects, and a suggested phased approach to bringing the park into completion. Once the park planner is selected, perhaps after an open bidding process, discussions with the public will begin in earnest. Everyone will get a chance to voice what they like, want, and dislike. You can walk the property now and dream about what you would like to see and begin discussions with your friends and neighbors. Initial ideas on the table include a large Gazebo to watch the water flow by in all weather, ample benches and shade trees, moving the Caboose to a prominent position, picking choice spots for fishing areas, clearing a grassy grotto for pilates, yoga, etc., putting in a performance shell whereby performances can be held with spectators on chairs or blankets on the descending hillside, building a more user-friendly canoe and kayak launch with adjacent parking, expanding substantial auxiliary parking to help service the businesses in town as well as the park, and the ideas go on and on. Everything must and will be ADA compliant, thus everyone with mobility limitations can partake of the park’s joys.
We will update everyone as the process unfolds; there will be plenty of time and notice for the public to get involved, and notices also will appear on our website, ARTinCC.org, and linked Facebook page and group. The park has been named the “Fox-Hunt Park”, first in honor of the Fox family that founded Foxburg and originally owned all of the land from north of Emlenton to south of the Clarion River; and second, in honor of the Hunt family that owned the land of the park for many decades, and greatly cooperated in making the land available for this public use. The park will run from the west side of Railroad Street north of the Rt. 58 bridge up to near the first Shoup maintenance building, and always down to the river’s edge.