Sunday, July 13, 2014

West Side Trail backers mark progress

Additional 2 miles of urban trail network opened as part of “Safe Route to School” project

September 22. 2013 12:50AM
EILEEN GODIN Times Leader Correspondent

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WEST WYOMING — Step by step, the dream of establishing the West Side Trail is becoming a reality, as evidenced Saturday morning by the dedication at Daily Park in West Wyoming of phase two of the urban pathway.

The half-hour ceremony officially opened an additional 2 miles of the trail system, a “Safe Route to School” project. Phase two included sidewalk repairs, increased sidewalk accessibility and landscaping along Eighth Street in West Wyoming, Tenth Street in Wyoming, and Erie, Memorial and Penn Avenue, Exeter.

West Side Trail Commission members Karen Szwast, of Exeter, and Bill Goldsworthy, of West Pittston, helped to power this project and, along the way, found themselves building relationships with officials from municipalities, the school district and various governmental agencies.

The ceremony drew about 100 people, including state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, Bob Morgan, representing Congressman Matt Cartwright’s office, West Wyoming Mayor Joseph Herbert, John Bolin, president of the Wyoming Area School District board, and many residents, business owners and bicycle enthusiasts.

Goldsworthy, former mayor of West Pittston and member of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Northeast Regional office, said it is great to see the trail growing.

The West Side Trail master plan, developed in 2000, calls for 19 miles of pathways, linking the West Side Trail to the Wyoming Valley Levee Trail, the Back Mountain Trail, and through West Pittston and connecting to the Pittston River Walk.

So far, 4 miles have been completed.

To develop its vision, The West Side Trail Commission has received $2,128,635 in funding from sources such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Luzerne County and local governments, Szwast said.

Yudichak praised the work of local government officials, the community, and state and federal representatives. “This is a regional asset,” he said. “This represents communities working together for the betterment, improved quality of life and safety of our children.”

Morgan said the ribbon-cutting ceremony should celebrate the foresight of communities working together. “This is how our government works best,” he said.

The new trail will take pedestrians through residential areas, past businesses and recreational areas, while creating a safe walking area to three out of four schools within the Wyoming Area School District.

Bolin said the trail systems is an outstanding idea, and he plans to challenge the students, when they return following the district’s teachers’ strike, to walk with him from the Daily Park to the schools.

The goal of the trail is to promote an active healthy lifestyle and provide children with a safe route to schools, Szwast said.

West Wyoming Mayor Joseph Herbert, who lives along the trail’s route, said he already has seen the amount of families using the new sidewalks triple. “It is the best thing to happen to this area,” he said.

One of several bicycle enthusiasts on hand, Rick Williams of Kingston, said he thought the new branch of the trail systems is great. “It is good for the economy, and for health and safety of the residents,” he said.

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