Appreciation of the outdoors is a value instilled deeply throughout central Pennsylvania. Here are three outdoor parks in Centre County starting construction or making improvements so that residents can get out of the house and experience nature.
Talleyrand Park, Bellefonte
In July, work began in Talleyrand to restore some of the stream banks. The money came from a $110,000 Community Conservation and Partnerships Program grant awarded by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Talleyrand Park Committee, Centre County Conservation District, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Borough of Bellefonte all chipped in money to get the grant.
Two more projects funded by the DCNR grant started last week: a restoration and upgrade of the white pergola near the suspension bridge over Spring Creek and the addition of an ADA-accessible walkway from West High Street to the raceway. Both projects are being done by Jack Spierly Construction.
Assistant Borough Manager Don Holderman said he estimates the work will be done by Oct. 26, right before the Oct. 27 Fall Fest held in Talleyrand.
In the next month, Holderman said, Lycoming Supply Co. will begin additional work in Talleyrand using $89,804 from the 2018 Community Development Block Grant Centre County Commissioners will take to a final vote on Oct. 23. This work includes expansion of the brick pathway from the train station to the railroad bridge, fencing around the playground near the train tracks to block children from running onto the tracks and a guide rail from Potter Street to discourage people from crossing the train tracks at unsafe crossing points.
Tom Ridge Wetlands Preserve, Julian
Last week, the state Department of Community and Economic Development awarded a $250,000 grant to the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation in State College to build an ADA-accessible wildlife center in the Tom Ridge Wetlands Preserve in Julian.
This project has been in the works since last year.
The wildlife center — the first of its kind in central Pennsylvania — will include a one-mile handicap-accessible walkway designed like a boardwalk, complete with a fishing platform on Bald Eagle Creek and an education pavilion with picnic tables and restrooms.
A request for bids on the project will go out in the winter. Construction of the new center is set to begin in the summer with a dedication in the fall of 2019.
Tri-Municipal Park, Centre Hall
In August, construction began on the first section of the future Tri-Municipal Park, located in Potter Township on Upper Brush Valley Road across from Sammi’s Greenhouse.
In 2007, Centre Hall Borough, Gregg Township and Potter Township bought land from Penn State for the park with the aid of a DCNR grant.
Just this year, nine members of the three townships formed a nonprofit organization to oversee the finances, function and long-term plans of the park. The first section of the park will be funded through a $315,778 DCNR grant which was matched through a PennVest grant for $215,778 and loan for $107,891.
“We’re hoping to run the park off of donations,” said TMP board member and Gregg Township Supervisor Keri Miller. “The more money we can raise, the more we’ll be able to add on to the park.”
Miller said the TMP board of directors has budgeted around $15,000 to $20,000 in donations for the park this year, but they are hoping to generate more.
The three townships, according to a press release, are promoting the park as a recreational space for the Penns Valley area and school district. Its first section will include a one-mile walking trail, two multipurpose athletic fields and a sand volleyball court with a future pavilion. A nine-hole frisbee golf course that already exists in a different part of the park will become an 18-hole course when construction is finished.
Miller said Ameron Construction should be finished with the park’s first section by December of this year. The walking trail will be open to the public in spring 2019 and the fields will be open next fall.
Future plans for the park include adding baseball and softball fields, a playground, an orchard and natural open spaces and a picnic area.