Trail head topped off in Mt. Pleasant
For the past year, Norvelt's Glen Krallman has been driving from his home to Mt. Pleasant with one thing in mind — riding his Trek bicycle on the Coal & Coke Trail.
“This trail is nice when it's hot because there are a lot of shady spots, and it's nice in the fall because the colors have been really busy this year,” said Krallman, 55.
Now, the process of gaining access to the trail by Krallman and other bikers is about as easy as it will get, as the passage's trail head was officially completed this past weekend near Shop Demo Depot in the borough.
Bob Keeler, a local chiropractor and one the project's leaders, said he feels a true sense of accomplishment for seeing the project completed. He added that he has a sense of sincere gratitude for those who helped him finish the work.
“Up until now, it's been difficult to tell people how to even get to the trail. It's been our vision to have an exposed trail head in town,” said Keeler, co-founder and current secretary of the Coal & Coke Trail Chapter formed in 2000.
The chapter is a volunteer organization and is associated with the Regional Trail Corporation, a non-profit entity which promotes the conversion of right of ways into trails in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties, according to the Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation website.
The scenic, 6-mile trail — designed for bikers along with walkers, joggers, hikers and cross-country skiers — is built on the old Pennsylvania Railroad corridor, the site reads.
In the early 1900s, the old railroad corridor was used to transport coal and coke from the many coal mining companies in the county, the site reads.
The trail — which opened in 2007 after eight years of planning and development — also provides a non-motorized, handicapped accessible transportation source, the site reads.
The chapter's efforts to create the trail head for the passage which extends from the borough to neighboring Scottdale have gives the passage a visible entryway in the heart of town.
“This is where we started. This was always the plan from the very beginning to try and have a presence right in town,” Keeler said.
On Saturday, Keeler's crowning moment, the hanging of the trail head's official, painted sign at the site, was shared with him by Kim Giles of Shop Demo Depot; Bob Hutchinson, a Coal & Coke Trail Chapter maintenance official; Tom Forsythe, president of the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant, which provided the funding necessary to complete the roughly $4,000 project; and Mark DePalma, a Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club board member.
“We just think it's great for the residents of the surrounding communities to have this kind of access to the trail,” Forsythe said.
Creation of such an entryway became more possible when Westmoreland Community Action permitted the negotiation of an easement agreement to acquiesce a right-of-way on its property — Shop Demo Depot at 1 Cooks Way in the borough — to allow for the trail head to be created there after the business opened April 27.
Shop Demo Depot accepts tax-deductible donations of surplus and reusable building supplies from businesses, manufacturers, for resale to the public, the proceeds of which benefit Westmoreland Community Action.
“This trail is good for Mt. Pleasant, and it's actually good for business here at Shop Demo Depot,” said Jack Brown, director of community services for Westmoreland Community Action.
In fact, Brown said, Shop Demo Depot has already added a bike rack near the entrance to the facility and store officials have greeted patrons who have ridden their bikes there on the trail.
A bike lane will be painted on the pavement from the trail head to Main Street in the spring.
Mt. Pleasant Borough Mayor Jerry Lucia said the completion of the project is another example of several organizations in the community working together to do something positive.
“It starts with Bob Keeler. He just worked so diligently to get this done. It was his goal all along. We're really fortunate — so many people want to put their hand in and help,” Lucia said. “They all deserve a big pat on the back; that's fantastic for the community.”
Keeler also lauded the work of the Mt. Pleasant Borough street department, led by street Supervisor Mario Fontanazza, in completing the project, as well as Mt. Pleasant Township's board of supervisors for actively operating street paving equipment at the borough site.
“They've been extremely helpful, ever since the beginning,” Keeler said.
In addition, Lucia lauded Westmoreland Community Action for granting the access necessary to complete the trail head.
“The cooperation of Shop Demo Depot really helped seal the deal,” Lucia said.
He went on to describe the value of having a trail head that is so visible in the borough.
“You can be driving down Main Street and say, ‘There's the trail,',” he said.
Another biker, Mt. Pleasant's David Gordon, said that having access to the new trail head is an improvement over the prior one in Willows Park.
“I like to ride to Scottdale and back for exercise; it's an improvement over what it was before,” said Gordon, 58.
Editor's note: Anyone with information regarding who may be damaging the new portion of the Coal & Coke Trail with a dirt bike is asked to contact the Regional Trail Corporation anonymously at 724-872-5586.
A.J. Panian is a staff editor with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.