Antis to seek trail grants

Supervisors agree to match funds if approved

BELLWOOD — Antis Township will submit grant applications for a trail and conservation project and will provide the matching funds.

Township supervisors agreed unanimously to match more than $375,000 if grants are approved.

Antis leaders have been working to develop a trail project, which will stretch from a Route 865 overpass in Bellwood Borough to the township’s Becker Road — a distance of about 2 miles.

The project, which is planned to cross along both wooded and developed land, is estimated to cost about $1,055,000, Township Manager Lucas Martsolf said.

Martsolf said township officials hope to use PennDOT grant funds to cover a majority of construction costs.

But PennDOT funding will not cover engineering expenses, he said, explaining that engineering is estimated to cost about $217,000.

To cover that expense, supervisors voted Thursday to seek $158,000 in grant funds from the state Department of Conser­vation and Natural Resources.

As an application requirement, they also committed to match that amount with $59,000 to meet the full $217,000 cost.

“By approving this, you are not committing to spending $59,000,” Martsolf said, addressing supervisors.

Martsolf explained that amount would only be owed if and when grant funds are received, and the $59,000 could possibly be offset with grants from other sources.

“Sounds like a bargain to me,” Supervisor Robert Smith said.

The same was true for another DCNR grant application, which supervisors agreed to submit.

The board voted to seek $320,000 to cover the cost of land acquired for both trail development and a larger conservation project.

That application included a 1-to-1 commitment by supervisors of another $320,000, Martsolf said.

In all, about 100 acres of land was secured for the trail project with several hundred more acres purchased for conservation purposes, he said.

On Thursday, supervisors came out of a closed-door executive session to announce they had taken over an alleyway in Bellwood Borough, which is along the trail route.

The acquisition means the township now owns all of the right-of-way for phase one of the project, Martsolf said.

“The most difficult thing about these types of projects is securing the right-of-way,” he said, explaining ownership makes a stark difference in securing funding.

If grants are awarded, township officials can move forward with engineering, bidding and permitting the project, Martsolf said, predicting construction could begin as early as spring of 2020.

And township leaders are already planning to expand the trail beyond its initial footprint. Phase two would take the trail from Becker Road to Lower Riggles Gap Road.

“It is truly going to be a greenway corridor that is going to continue to develop for decades,” Martsolf said, also mentioning potential stormwater and streambank projects. “All we really have to do now is wait on state money.”

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.