Trail Envisioned as Enriching Youghiogheny Towns
By Stacey Federoff
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Great Allegheny Passage trail generates $40 million a year in economic spending, and a preservation plan is intended to use historic preservation in six trail towns to harness that spending power.
A meeting Tuesday night in West Newton hosted by the Progress Fund’s Trail Towns Program organized preliminary goals and objectives for that plan.
Meetings were open to the six communities — West Newton, Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Confluence, Meyersdale and Rockwood — in March to gather ideas.
This second round of workshops, including one at noon today at the Ohiopyle-Stewart Community Center in Ohiopyle and another at 6:30 p.m. at the Turkeyfoot Valley Historical Society in Confluence, are meant to make sure the project was on the right track.
“The purpose of these meetings is to test our information,” said Matt Goebel, vice president of Clarion Associates of Denver, a preservation planning firm assisting with the project. “We’re continuing to seek input as much as we can throughout this whole process.”
About 15 people, many of whom were officials involved in the plan, were on hand in West Newton, but Goebel said the plan is trying to include more than just historical societies and preservation agencies.
“A big theme of this project is that preservation needs to move beyond the usual suspects,” he said, branching out to local governments or chambers of commerce.
One of the group’s goals is to identify common industries and cultural landscapes while continuing to preserve each of the towns’ authenticity.
“We want the trail towns hopefully to work together, but we also want you to own who you are and what makes you unique,” said Erin Hammerstedt of Preservation Pennsylvania.
She pointed out potential areas for preservation in each town, complimenting the classic downtowns in West Newton and Connellsville.
The organizations hope to have a draft plan prepared this fall and begin implementing it by year’s end.