Just before Thanksgiving, Governor Tom Wolf announced an investment of $50 million for 280 projects across Pennsylvania that will create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources, and help revitalize local communities.
“Many of the projects being funded -- improvements to local parks, trails, and river access -- bring opportunities for outdoor recreation closer to home, and are the features that help attract families, visitors, and businesses that provide jobs to communities,” Governor Wolf said. “This $50 million in grants will support communities throughout Pennsylvania working to protect and improve natural amenities for our citizens.”
Here are some examples of projects around the state:
Jordan Park Skatepark, Allentown, Lehigh County
The city plans to construct a new skatepark with the help of a $300,000 DCNR grant.
“I want to thank Governor Wolf and the department for approving our grant application,” Mayor Ray O’Connell said in a news release. “The skate park is a perfect addition to the 15 exercise stations installed in the park just two years ago. Jordan Park will be serving residents of all ages.”
In addition to the skatepark grant, projects in Lehigh County will receive more than $1.29 million.
Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong said in a release, “Lehigh County is committed to maintaining and improving our open and green spaces. We know that they are integral to continuing to attract new residents and families to the Lehigh Valley, and they provide significant economic and environmental benefits to our region.”
Quincy Township Municipal Park, Franklin County
The township will receive $25,400 to acquire about six acres to be added to Quincy Township Municipal Park.
Township Supervisor Robert Gunder said the land includes forested area and natural habitat, and township officials plan to leave those areas untouched, but could include recreational trails. “We haven’t approved any official plans,” Gunder said. “We’ll have to sit down with the park committee and board to give us suggestions on how to use it.”
Local Parks and Recreation in Bradford, Lycoming Counties
State Senator Gene Yaw applauded several state investments in Bradford and Lycoming counties. “These are great investments by DCNR to improve and enhance our recreational areas,” Sen. Yaw said. “These grants will enable our local governments to make our parks even better and more accessible to our citizens. It’s important that we continue to improve these areas, so that we can enjoy them for years to come.”
The grants include improvements to War Memorial Park and Creekside Park in Bradford County, and an addition to the South Williamsport Community Center Complex, and further development of the Loyalsock Community Recreation Center in Lycoming County.
Westmoreland Heritage Trail, Westmoreland County
The next phase of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, connecting Murrysville and Export, is projected to be complete by summer 2019. After a $320,000 DCNR grant, the next 3.4 miles of trail are now fully funded.
“We’re planning to break ground around March,” said Jeff Richards, planning coordinator for the county’s parks and recreation department. “We’d like to try and fortify the stream bank before getting into construction of the trail, and some of the (DCNR) funding will go toward that.”
Memorial Park, Butler City, Butler County
“DCNR announced that they had selected the City of Butler for a $40,000 grant to be part of the Rotary project to fix up the Memorial Park,” Butler City Councilman Jeff Smith said the day of the announcement. The AM Rotary is currently fundraising roughly $100,000 to replace playground equipment and renovate.
Smith wanted to make sure that credit for putting the grant application together was given to Butler County Parks Director Lance Welliver, as well as the County Commissioners and the AM Rotary group.
Kepler Community Swimming Pool, Bellefonte, Centre County
The Nittany Valley Joint Recreation Authority will receive $334,800 for repairs to this Bellefonte neighborhood pool.
“That’s certainly good news,” Authority chairman Michael Bonchack said. “The pool was built in 1971 ... and it’s a mess. There was just all kinds of problems. There are major water leaks.” Without the help of the DCNR grant, he said, “The pool was going to close.” Kepler Pool welcomes about 7,000–10,000 visitors every summer season.
Elk Creek Access, Girard Township, Erie County
The Lake Erie Region Conservancy will receive $460,900 to help acquire about 182 acres in Girard Township for habitat protection and public access to a portion of Elk Creek.
The property will be transferred to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “It has over 6,000 feet of stream frontage on Elk Creek and is an important spot for steelhead fishing,” said Dave Skellie, president of the Lake Erie Region Conservancy board of directors. “There’s also a very deep gorge there. It’s a beautiful piece of property.”
Waymart Sports Complex, Waymart Borough, Wayne County
Waymart Borough will receive a $215,000 grant for the rehabilitation and further development of Waymart Sports Complex. Work includes renovation of concession stand and baseball field; construction of pedestrian walkways, dug outs, press box, and parking area; and storm water management measures.
“Joe Gillott, engineer, and I are positively ecstatic that DCNR funded our rehabilitation of the Bob Wilson Field complex,” Waymart Council member Jane Varcoe said. “For our match, we can’t thank enough the tremendous response from the community area businesses and individuals who pledged or donated matching funds to our proposed rehabilitation and upgrade to our community recreation area.”
“When completed, Bob Wilson Field will be lighted for evening games with a state-of-the-art playing field, bleachers, and handicapped access -- plus an addition to the concession stand. This will be Western Wayne’s only lighted community field and we are looking forward to the area softball and soccer teams sharing in our excitement.”
Additionally, more than $2.1 million is being provided to Heritage Areas for projects including advancing river and trail towns, closing gaps in Pennsylvanian’s destination trails, developing heritage tourism initiatives, improving educational and interpretative signage and planning, and marketing heritage tourism events.
Funding for the DCNR grants comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax; the Environmental Stewardship Fund; the ATV/Snowmobile Fund generated through fees for licenses; and federal monies including the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
A complete list of grants (PDF) from around the state is available on the DCNR website.