Mt. Pleasant area hiking/biking trail nears completion
Work on the last leg of the Coal and Coke Trail has begun thanks largely to the largesse of a local entrepreneur.
Over time, project donor Robert Levin — president of Levin Furniture Co. — has helped steer the project toward its anticipated completion, said Bob Keeler, secretary of the Coal & Coke Trail Chapter.
“Robert has supported us for years, and I just really want to acknowledge him for that,” Keeler said. “He's been wonderful and his support has been incredible.”
The trail chapter is a volunteer organization and is associated with the Regional Trail Corporation, a nonprofit entity that promotes the conversion of rights of way into trails in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties, according to the Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation website.
The Coal and Coke Trail — a scenic, 6-mile stretch designed for bicyclists, walkers, joggers, hikers and cross-country skiers — is built on the old Pennsylvania Railroad corridor between Mt. Pleasant Borough and Scottdale.
A biking enthusiast, Levin said he and his company wish to support the efforts to help build and maintain the region's bike trails.
“I've biked in different places, but I truly believe that some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the country is along the trails of Southwestern Pennsylvania,” Levin said.
Levin donated $3,000 in 2011 and 2012 to the chapter's annual Comedy Night fundraiser to match the chapter dollar-for-dollar on the amount placed in the events' 50/50 raffle pots, Keeler said.
“We essentially gave away all we collected, and he (Levin) has made donations to replenish that,” Keeler said.
In addition, Levin donated $7,500 to the chapter last year to be used for completion of the trail's third and final segment, which will connect it to Jacobs Creek Walking Trail in Kendi Park in Scottdale, Keeler said.
When that portion of the pressed limestone trail is completed, Keeler said, riders will no longer have to travel for a distance along Mt. Pleasant Road before entering Kendi Park.
“When the work is done on this piece of property, we will be able to link the trail to the Jacobs Creek Walking Trail at the end of it rather than in the middle,” Keeler said. “We're on our way. Hopefully, we'll have it done this spring.”
East Huntingdon officials have also donated their efforts on the portion of the trail currently under development, including the free installation of 400 feet of drainage piping purchased by the chapter with Levin's donation and funding received from the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative mini-grant program of the state Department of Conservation & Natural Resources.
“We've done some labor. That was our donation. We also keep it mowed and make it presentable for people using it,” said township Supervisor Joel Suter. “There's a real community cooperation at play with this.”
The fact that the trail will connect Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale makes it all the more worthwhile a cause, Levin said.
“Helping our towns be more bicycle friendly is such a great win-win for everyone — it connects towns with one another; it is great recreation and exercise for families, and it could bring visitors into our communities who want to explore new places on their bikes,” Levin said.
“To the extent that Mt. Pleasant can be an area where visitors may want to ride, it just adds another attraction for Mt. Pleasant as a destination for day trips, not to mention the benefits that are enjoyed by the community.”
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.