Grant funds boost Westmoreland recreation projects

Renatta Signorini
| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Four recreation projects in Westmoreland County were buoyed on Thursday by $762,000 in grant funding.

The projects, two of which span multiple municipalities, are being aided by money from the Community Conservation Partnership Program through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The local funding is part of more than $38 million statewide that will support 201 conservation and recreational projects in 62 counties, according to a news release from the office of Gov. Tom Corbett.

Local projects include:

• $457,000 for the acquisition of approximately 100 acres of the defunct Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad corridor, which spans Murrysville, Penn Township, Monroeville and Trafford. County Parks and Recreation Director Malcolm Sias said the planned 9.5-mile walking and biking trail will be an expansion of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, which runs from Saltsburg to Delmont.

“We're pretty excited about the opportunity,” Sias said.

The goal is eventually to connect the two sections.

The land purchase is expected in September, after matching funds are raised, Sias said. The land runs along Turtle Creek and winds through Murrysville close to Route 22.

Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said the municipality supports the project.

• $250,000 for the development of Lincoln Avenue Trail and Greenway Park in Latrobe and Derry Township. According to the release, the planned work includes the construction of about two miles of trail along Lincoln Avenue between Routes 981 and 982.

The funding will help pay for creation of two trailheads, stamped concrete crossings, erosion control and asphalt to pave the trail along the former Ligonier Valley Rail Road path, said Jeanne Ashley, executive director of Latrobe-Unity Parks and Recreation.

“We want to beautify the whole greenway corridor there with art and flowers, trees and benches and dog stations,” she said, adding that the trail also will serve to better connect the community in a pedestrian-friendly way.

• $40,000 for additions to Newhouse Park. Delmont Recreation Board secretary April Milburn-Knizner said the funds will be used to purchase a “web crawler” that will attract 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 include safety updates, signage and beautification, she said.

• $15,400 for the preparation of a development plan at 15-acre J.M. Hall Jr. Park in Export.

“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.

Other projects across the state that were funded through the Community Conservation Partnership Program include 36 trail projects, 77 community parks and five river conservation plans, according to the news release.

Staff writers Rossilynne Skena Culgan and Stacey Federoff contributed. Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or

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