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New Scottdale section added to trail

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
Frequent trail user Bill Potoka enjoys a turn on the new section that leads to a wooded area behind Henderson Auto in Scottdale.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
Robert Keeler, Coke and Coal Trail secretary, and Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson, who works with trail safety and maintetnce, have been busy erecting additional signage.

The Coal and Coke Trail, which runs from Mt. Pleasant to Scottdale, has a new section.

This will allow the bikers and hikers who take advantage of the lovely scenic route to enjoy the newly opened leg of trail that now runs behind Henderson Auto off Mt. Pleasant Road in Scottdale.

“We bought the property when we first started the trail, but we ran out of money,” said Robert Keeler, Coal and Coke Trail secretary, adding that a grant from Levin Furniture and other grants made the new link work possible. “We had to dig a ditch and have it cleared and excavated.”

Prior to the new section, trail users had to bike or walk along the Mt. Pleasant Road from the Kendi Park extension in Scottdale to the wooded area off the street, a distance of about a quarter mile, but now most of that will be on a more scenic and safer route.

“It really was a matter of safety,” Keeler said. “This now gets people off the road and on to the trail.”

The Coal and Coke Trail has experienced a tough year, with the summer rains causing three washouts on the trail in different sections.

“I think that we did more work and had more expense this year then all the other years put together,” Keeler said. “This year was really, really rough for us.”

Because of the washout in the section of the trail right off Willow's Park in Mt. Pleasant, the trial group are looking at possibly paving that section of the trail and they are also looking into the clearing of trees and other obstacles in Shupe Run that are contributors to the flooding that causes the washout issues.

The issues with vandalism also have been addressed as Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson, who is in charge of trail maintenance and safety, said their efforts to make the route safer seem to be working.

“We have a safe trail,” Hutchinson said. “We were having some problems with quads and motorcycles, but we pretty much have that all under control now.”

Hutchinson said he also personally takes time to sit along areas of the trail that have posed problems in the past, keeping a watch while also offering reassurance to those who use the route.

“I have different areas that I sit back off the trail a little and just keep an eye out,” Hutchinson said. “Some of the regulars now look for me and wave when they see me. I think it makes them feel better to know I am there. They feel safer.”

The Coal and Coke group is pleased with the progress of the trail and the recent addition of the trail head on the Mt. Pleasant end has added convenience and usage, but members feel that they still need to get word out on the route while also seeking help in upkeep.

“What we need is public awareness so more people really know about the trail and can help,” Keeler said. “A lot of people still don't know all the details of the trail. We invite the public to our meetings that are held at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the Village Restaurant and we encourage people to come.”

“What we would like to get is more feedback from the people that use the trail on a regular basis,” Hutchinson said. “We need the people who use the trail a lot to be a presence. We need to hear their input. We need to spread the word a little more.”

The group is now busy completing the addition signage that must be placed, re-routing the trail traffic to the new section.

“I think it's great,” said Bill Potoka from Mt. Pleasant, while bicycling on the trail's new section. “It will be safer now for everyone to use.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.