Montour recreation group working to connect trails | News

DANVILLE — The borough will receive a $98,650 state grant to help construct a 1.1-mile handicapped-accessible trail on top of the Hospital Run and Upper Susquehanna River levees, as well as related handicapped-accessible parking areas.

Bob Stoudt, director of the Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC), told commission board members at their meeting this week that the grant will match $620,629 in previously awarded federal Transportation Alternatives grant funding. Stoudt submitted the application on behalf of the borough on April 22 to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) 2020 Non-Motorized Trails grant program.

The project will connect Danville’s residential neighborhoods with the Washies Playground and the Danville Soccer Park.

“It gives us one more piece of the puzzle in connecting the (North Branch Canal Trail),” Stoudt said.

The funding will help pay for the final design, permitting and construction of the project, he said.

MARC also is planning a trail paralleling Route 11, from the Danville Area High School-Primary School complex to Hopewell Park. Stoudt said students walking to and from the park won’t have to walk along the highway. 

Under the updated memorandum of understanding with the borough, “MARC shall be permitted to investigate and construct a new trail paralleling the US-11 road corridor to connect the Danville Area School District campus and planned athletic fields with Hopewell Park and existing trails,” according to the agreement. 

MARC will have to coordinate with the borough on the trail location, design and maintenance and to secure all required permits, it states.

The MARC board also decided to ask the Montour County commissioners to resume an eviction against Bear Hunters’ Grove Campground, which was started in 2017 and paused in 2018. Commissioner Dan Hartman, who represents the county on the MARC board, said the commissioners would discuss the matter.

Stoudt reported he met on Oct. 23 with representatives of the campground, located at the Montour County-Columbia County line, to discuss ongoing encroachments on the North Branch Canal Trail and SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority properties. He said he saw new construction of a wooden-framed animal pen on the location where a horse corral had previously been removed. He said he also saw gardens, woodpiles, vehicles and other encroachments. He said the campground representatives reasserted ownership of the land in dispute and strongly objected to MARC’s efforts to have the items removed. 

He said he advised them that MARC would consider them to be in violation of a 2018 agreement stating the campground would cease objections to the trail, allow public use of the trail corridor, and remove encroachments identified by MARC. 

Stoudt said he will post trail closures on either side of the campground until the legal dispute is resolved.

The board also opted to accept a playground set from St. Joseph Catholic School in Danville. The school offered the equipment, which is currently in place at the school’s playground, to MARC at no cost. The only stipulation is MARC must remove the set, which the commission will do once it decides on a member facility to which to relocate it.

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