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Trees to shade Latrobe's Lincoln Avenue along trail

| Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

About 25 trees are planned to shade parts of Lincoln Avenue, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Westmoreland Cleanways.

The trees are a part of a larger project to make a 1.6-mile trail along the former railroad corridor and will help beautify the area, slow traffic and soak up storm water runoff, said Jarod Trunzo, Latrobe community engagement and sustainability coordinator.

“One way (to do that) naturally is through the planting of street trees along the trail,” he said.

Westmoreland Cleanways awarded the grant to Latrobe as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a national organization that works to reduce littering and build sustainable communities.

Trunzo said that within the next few months he hopes volunteers can help plant the trees along Lincoln between the Main Street section of Route 981 and the Hillview Avenue section of Route 982.

“It's big in scope, but it's very small in its implementation,” he said, adding that the project can be improved a section at a time by Boy Scouts or other interested community groups.

In March, Latrobe City Council approved the allocation of $35,000 as part of a $250,000 match to a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We're just keeping our fingers crossed,” said Jeanne Ashley, executive director of Latrobe-Unity Parks and Recreation, as officials wait for a decision from the state.

The funding will help pay for more parking access areas, stamped concrete crossings, erosion control and asphalt to pave the trail, she said.

With the separate $5,000 from Westmoreland Cleanways, mature native trees will help shade the trail, even before it is completed, Ashley said.

“Trees are very expensive, especially ones that are big enough that you don't have to wait 20 years for shade,” she said.

Latrobe was chosen for the grant, also funded nationally by the UPS Foundation, because of the support of many partnering organizations such as the Latrobe Foundation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Latrobe-Unity Parks and Recreation, and the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program.

The corridor was once used by the Ligonier Valley Rail Road that connected to the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line through Latrobe.

The Latrobe Foundation last year paid $105,000 to acquire the corridor from Norfolk Southern Corp., which took ownership of the right of way when the railroad acquired Conrail's lines.

Because of the many homes along both sides of the trail in that part of the city, people are using the rail bed as a trail, even though it is not developed.

“It's a very usable walking path right now,” Trunzo said. “People love to walk in Latrobe.”

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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