Grant funds boost Delmont, Export recreation projects

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Westmoreland County has received a major grant that will pay for nearly half of a plan to expand the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, and Delmont and Export received smaller grants for park projects.

Earlier this month, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Program awarded the county a $457,000 grant to expand the trail along the Turtle Creek railroad through Murrysville, Penn Township, Monroeville and Trafford.

“We're pretty excited about the opportunity,” said Malcolm Sias, Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation director.

The project — the cost of which is expected to top $1 million — could begin as early as 2015, officials said.

The money will go towards acquiring about 100 acres of the defunct Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad. The planned 9.5-mile walking and biking trail extension will be the third phase of the Westmoreland Heritage trail, which runs about 8.7 miles from Saltsburg to Delmont.

The county must raise matching funds, Sias said.

In November, the project was denied a $250,000 grant through the Commonwealth Financing Authority, an arm of the state Department of Community and Economic Development,

The trail would run from Lincoln Avenue in Export through Murrysville and end near the new Trafford Veterans Memorial Bridge. It would run near boundaries for B-Y Park in Trafford, Valley Park in Monroeville and Duff Park in Murrysville. Officials have said they hope to have the land acquired by late 2014 and begin work on the trail in 2015. The proposal calls for the trail to be expanded in three-mile segments beginning in 2016, with completion estimated for 2020.

Two other local government entities received grants from the Community Conservation Partnership Program.

Delmont received $40,000 to develop Newhouse Park.

Delmont Recreation Board secretary April Milburn-Knizner said the money will be used to purchase a “web crawler” that is expected to will appeal to older children visiting the park. Current equipment is geared toward younger children at the park, which was created several decades ago, she said.

“A lot of the equipment is old,” Milburn-Knizner said.

Other improvements in the project include safety updates, signage and beautification, she said.

Borough engineer Gary Baird said the borough will match the grant with “in-kind” labor.

Export officials received $15,400 to develop a site plan for the 15-acre J.M. Hall Jr. Park.

“This is the very first step in the endeavor after receiving the property,” said Melanie Litz, council member and grant coordinator for the borough.

She said the money will go toward engineering fees to create a master site plan that would guide the rest of construction for the park, which Litz hopes will use “green” technology, such as rain gardens and meadows to boost efficiency while also incorporating the site's past as a Westmoreland Coal Co. site.

“I have lots of ideas, but an important part of the process is public meetings and input,” Litz said.

The projects were among four in the county that received money and 118 statewide.

Staff writers Rossilynne Skena Culgan and Stacey Federoff contributed. Daveen Rae Kurutz and Rennata Signorini are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Kurutz can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or Signorini can be reached at 724-837-5374 or

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