Pledges needed for Bellefonte/Milesburg trail proposal

Commissioners signed a letter of commitment in support of a 2.5-mile trail.
Commissioners signed a letter of commitment in support of a 2.5-mile trail. Graphic provided

A proposed trail linking Bellefonte and Milesburg is still several years down the road, but the Centre County Board of Commissioners is in full support of its creation.

Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday, signing a letter of commitment in support of the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s application for a state Department of Community and Economic Development grant. The grant would help fund an initial feasibility study for the proposed trail.

The resolution also covers the $100 grant application fee.

Using a grant to fund the study was initially mentioned by Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson at the end of May. Wilson reported that he had turned to the Centre County planning office to submit an application for a grant through the DCED Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program.

MPO senior transportation planner Mike Bloom described what the trail could end up being to commissioners Tuesday, displaying a concept for a 2.5-mile multipurpose trail connecting the boroughs of Bellefonte and Milesburg.

The concept would focus as a community-based trail running between the recently redeveloped Bellefonte waterfront area to Milesburg Community Park, Bloom said. The trail also represents a small portion of a larger concept that seeks to link State College, Bellefonte, Milesburg and Beech Creek.

It will cost an estimated $95,000 to complete the study, he said. The DCED grant can cover up to $80,750.

The grant requires a 15 percent match as well, he said — an unusually small amount for grants involving greenways. The Bellefonte borough has already signed a letter of commitment toward a $10,000 match, he said, leaving a gap of $4,250.

Vice Chairman Mark Higgins thanked the borough for its support and reported that the county had sent out several letters asking for support. As of Tuesday morning, he said, four return letters from various organizations had pledged a total of $3,500.

“If any other local community groups would like to make a pledge to close the gap of $750,” Higgins said, “it would be welcomed.”

Bloom said the application deadline is June 30, and he would like to have funding commitments secured by June 28.

Bloom also outlined a timeline for the proposed trail, indicating that if the MPO receives the grant, the study could be completed by the end of 2017. The MPO would apply for further funding in 2018, start engineering and permitting by 2019 with construction on the trail by 2020.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews