North Franklin park trail to be expanded

Recreation board to seek bids this week for $190,000 project

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Walkers who take to a dead-end park trail in North Franklin Township will soon be able to stroll there without having to turn around.

The North Franklin Township Recreation and Business Improvement Authority this week will seek bids from contractors interested in constructing a 2,300-foot extension to the trail on property behind Consol Energy Park, authority solicitor Michael Cruny said Monday.

“The good news is it’s all on property the authority owns,” authority member Leo Trich said when the project was announced at a Feb. 11 township supervisors meeting.

The authority purchased the property, including two ponds, from Baseball Scholarships Inc. four years ago to expand the park off Trich Drive next to a baseball field used by Washington & Jefferson College.

At the time, the authority also was interested in an additional 17.6 acres along Franklin Farms Road owned by Pennsylvania American Water Co., property Washington & Jefferson College now may want for research work, Cruny said. He said there was some discussion about the authority obtaining rights of way to continue building the trail into that property.

The new trail project connects to an existing 800-foot walkway accessed from a parking lot behind the Consol park, near where the authority also owns a pavilion. The new path will cross property between two ponds and loop back to the trail entrance.

Phase I and II at the park involved the development of the smaller trail, a playground and a second pavilion closer to the field used by W&J, at a cost of nearly $400,000. Most of that money came from a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Cruny said the pavilions have become a popular, affordable destination for children’s birthday parties, and local preschools are taking advantage of free use of the playground.

The authority’s business improvement tax on new development at Washington Crown Center mall and nearby buildings will pay for the trail extension, Cruny said.

He said work is expected to begin in May and be completed in mid-summer.

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