Antis votes to purchase more trail land

BELLWOOD — Another two plots of land needed to construct a $2 million, 2-mile trail are now under municipal ownership, after Thursday votes from Antis Township supervisors authorizing a purchase and subdivision.

Supervisors agreed unanimously to spend $16,000 to purchase about one-third of an acre near the Route 865 overpass in Bellwood Borough with hopes of constructing a trailhead.

“They are happy it’s going to become part of our trail network,” Township Manager Lucas Martsolf said, speaking about the property’s former owners.

Township officials hope to construct a trail, which will stretch from Bellwood Borough to Lower Riggles Gap Road, which will utilize some existing pathways.

Those existing pathways include an alleyway in Bellwood Borough, a municipal partner in the recreation expansion.

However, the project also requires the purchase of some land, which will be used for the trail project, as well as conservation efforts.

On Thursday, supervisors also approved a subdivision agreement to acquire a portion of a property owned by Fred A. Petrunak, who is not the optometrist at Mountain View Eye Associates.

Solicitor Patrick Fanelli said township leaders agreed to pay $2,000 per acre for little more than 9 acres of land.

That deal came after negotiations with Petrunak, who initially did not want to part with his land, Fanelli said.

Petrunak eventually granted the subdivision after supervisors agreed they would use eminent domain to seize his property.

Thursday’s property acquisitions are not the township’s first land purchases made to benefit the trail.

In December, more than $100,000 was spent to purchase a number of properties.

At least a portion of that money could be reimbursed if the township is successful in securing state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant funds, Supervisor Robert Smith said, explaining the grant would cover 50 percent of all acquisition costs.

Martsolf said he and other township leaders recently met with DCNR officials to discuss pending recreation projects and how to best apply for funding.

“I think we had a good three-hour group discussion. … They seem to be very excited about our projects,” he said. “We got a lot of advice from them to make sure that we come in with really solid competitive applications.

The DCNR funding is one of several grant programs township leaders hope to use to fund widespread recreation and conservation improvements over the next few years.

On Thursday, supervisors voted to seek construction bids for an improvement project at the Bellwood-Antis Community Park, which is to be at least partially funded by a $50,000 Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission grant.

There was also discussion about possibly using Community Development Block Grant funds for sidewalk work.

Smith applauded the township’s staff for their work in trying to make planned improvements a reality.

“When things go as well as they have been going, it tends to look easy,” Smith said. “Well it’s not easy; it’s simply well done.”

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.