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East Brady recreation assets touted

| Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, 2:06 a.m.

A group in East Brady wants to rally residents and visitors around the borough's recreational assets.

They will have a chance to do just that starting in January, when East Brady Area Development Corp.'s Trail and River Town Action Team hosts a walking tour of the borough next month.

“We're kind of pumped up thinking this organization is going to make some changes,” said Toni Henry, a member of the development group.

“The changes may be small at first, but we're going in the right direction.”

Henry said her group wants to get public input on what the borough can do to make it more attractive to people who want to hike, bike and relax on the river.

To start with, they are hosting a meeting Jan. 5 at the Allegheny Hills Retirement Residence.

They're also recruiting people to take part in a walking assessment Jan. 23 to determine how to better promote outdoor recreation.

“I've seen over the last 20 years how those towns have transformed. Long distance trails attract tourists,” she said, adding that the borough already has plenty to offer in its bike trail and the Allegheny River.

Among additions they'd like to see are signs directing people on the borough's trail toward the town, bike lanes added and an improved boat launch.

Other suggestions that have come in include a zip line that crosses the Allegheny River.

“It's nice to dream big,” she said. “We'll put those ideas in our long-range planning file.

“But right now, we're looking at what we can accomplish in the next year.”

The group is optimistic about this being the right time, Henry said. She chalks that up to the near-completion of the Armstrong Trail between East Brady and the Rosston section of Manor Township, just south of Ford City.

“We were waiting for the right time,” she said.

“The longer the trail, the greater the economic impact — and East Brady is long overdue for greater economic impact.”

Cathy McCollom, of McCollom Development Strategies in Confluence, is a longtime friend of Henry's. She is helping Henry and company attract more recreational visitors.

“I think they'll see a tremendous impact from it,” McCollom said. “Users of bike trails and paddlers and kayakers, they're a good group. They use trails, spend money and pick up their litter.”

The impact of such activities could trickle down through Armstrong County, she said.

“There is definitely a ripple effect,” she said. “In the case of the Armstrong Trail, it will connect with the Great Allegheny Passage. Then you have connections between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. and people can take longer trips.”

“The longer and more connected trails are in a county, the more people will come,” she said. “And if there are cool towns there, they're going to dine, they're going to drink, they are going to stay overnight.”

East Brady Council President Barbara Mortimer, who acts as a liaison between local officials and the action team, agrees that encouraging outdoor recreation may be a boost.

“The trail people are good people,” she said. “We enjoy seeing them head for the trail on their bicycles. It's a positive effort.”

And, like Henry, she believes those “good people” will help the small borough's economy.

“I think anything that brings positive attention to the borough is good,” she said. “Anything that benefits the business owners and benefits the image of the town is good.”

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jmartin@tribweb.com.

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