Public Meeting, Emlenton Crawford Center Thurs., Feb. 6, at 7:00 PM
Photo: Richey Run Bridge along the bike trail.
Let The Bike Trail Begin – Emlenton To Foxburg
Public Meeting, Emlenton Crawford Center Thurs., Feb. 6, At 7:00 PM
A public meeting is set for THURS. FEB. 6, at 7:00pm at the Emlenton Crawford Center, to answer your questions about the bike trail, and discuss the need for Committees for: (1) A Membership Drive, (2) Grant applications, (3) Fund-raising from individuals and businesses; (4) Construction, including land clearing, stormwater improvements, etc.; (5) the Foxburg Community Park; (6) Marketing through a website and Facebook; (7) Backup to the attorneys in the ongoing litigation; and (8) Expansion in the size of the existing Board of Directors. We urge you to attend and bring your friends who care about helping make the bike trail a great thing for everyone.
WHY NOW, you may ask? Two years ago, 50+ hardy local residents met during a snow storm to discuss forming a trail group to build the bike trail from Emlenton to Foxburg. Enthusiasm was high, and as a result, Allegheny River Trail in Clarion County Inc. (ARTinC) was formed early in 2018. IRS 501c3 nonprofit status was awarded early in 2019 after the long government shutdown. Much of 2018 was spent in start-up tasks, discussions with landowners, engineering analyses of the 3.5 miles to be built, and training about DCNR grant applications. Much of 2019 was spent on title research of the thousands of deeds from 1790-present, governing who actually owns the land along the river’s edge.
Major accomplishments in 2019 mean that the trail will be built, if you help. First, the State Commonwealth Finance Authority in Sept. approved a $160,000 grant application, to repair the Richey Run Bridge at the north end of Richland Township by the south end of Emlenton ($24,000 of which was a match through the ORA). This concrete bridge is decaying, has no side rails and a slippery top surface. It needs to be made safe before large construction vehicles and volunteers use it. The Franklin-based AVTA trail group owns the bridge, and we cooperated with them to do the engineering analyses, and obtain official support letters for the grant request. The Oil Region Alliance (ORA), and Trail Consultant Ron Steffey also were key in generating the application.
We cannot emphasize enough how important it was for local officials to step up and write detailed support letters for this project and the bike trail. When you see the following or their staff, please thank them for their support. ARTinC grant applications will continue this year and beyond as we continue to build things. Competition is intense for limited State funds, and absent strong local support, the money goes elsewhere. Please praise: Clarion County Commissioners Ted Tharan, Wayne Brosius, Ed Heasley, and Chief Clerk, Taylor Best; Clarion Dept. of Planning and Devel., Keith Decker, Chairman; Foxburg Borough Council; Foxburg Chamber of Commerce; State Reps. Donna Oberlander and R. Lee James; State Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson; US Congressman Glenn GT Thompson; the Oil Region Alliance (ORA); and, the Venango County Regional Planning Comm., Jason Ruggiera, Exec. Dir.
The second and equally important 2019 achievement involves the south end of the trail by Foxburg. After research, ARTinC filed legal actions against the Hunt Bros., who own the 1.5 acres directly across the Rt. 58 bridge formerly operated by Keystone Supply Co., as well as Guy Shoup’s trucking operation which is next to close to ¾ of a mile of the trail north of the Hunt Bros. The lawsuits ask the Court to rule on who owns the CONRAIL right of way, which we claim today is ARTinC.
After months of detailed negotiations, the Hunt Bros. settled their litigation, in what we believe is a settlement fair to both sides. The ink on the deal just dried. The settlement gives ARTinC total ownership of 600’ of the CONRAIL right of way next to the Hunts, which we can develop now. Also, ARTinC agreed to purchase the entire 1.5 Acre site for $67,500, which we committed to raise within 24 mos. This 1.5 Acres will provide parking for the bike trail, plus a community park along the Allegheny River just N of the Rt. 58 bridge. Thank the Hunt Bros. for their community spirit when you see them. Litigation with Guy Shoup is heating up, but settlement discussions with them have recently begun. ARTinC is committed to make whatever compromises might be required to preserve Guy Shoup and Carl Wolfe’s ability to continue their trucking business next to the bike trail. We will pursue a fair settlement as we did with the Hunt Bros.
With these accomplishments, it is time to gear up to build, build, and build some more. Construction of course takes real money, which can come from membership in ARTinC, donations by individuals or businesses beyond basic membership, and grants from government agencies or foundations. Government grants always require a cash match, which can run from 15% to 50%. We need your help, so please attend the meeting and bring some friends.
Respectfully, the ARTinC Board of Directors – Bob Jennings, Fred McIlhattan and Ann Marron.