W. Cocalico hopes grant permits trail construction

By on October 24, 2012

By: JAMES MCGINNIS Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

West Cocalico officials are optimistic that a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will allow work to begin on the construction of a trail in the Chapel Gate Park next year.

Township officials have been planning to construct a trail in the park, which is located off Park View Drive on the north side of Reinholds between the Chapel Gate development and the Norfolk Southern rail line for several years. However, construction costs and studies to determine the best route through some wetlands have delayed its construction.

The supervisors voted earlier this year to apply for a matching grant of $135,000 to build the trail. Under the terms of the grant, the township will also have to match the funds with an additional $135,000 of its own.

"It’s a 50/50 grant," township manager Carolyn Friesema explained. "We are matching it with $135,000 of the township’s own money."

Current plans anticipate the construction of a paved trail extending 3,000 feet along the outskirts of the park. It would begin near the baseball court at the southern end, following the perimeter west toward the railroad tracks. It would then turn northeast, paralleling the rail line through a wooded area, crossing some wetlands before ending at Park View Drive on the north end of the recreation area. "Users could follow the sidewalk back down Park View Drive to the baseball courts, making it a loop," Friesema pointed out.

Although most of the 3,000-foot trail will be paved with asphalt, the portion extending through the wetlands will follow a wooden boardwalk.

"We want to preserve and restore the wetlands," Friesema said. "This will allow users to see more wildlife than they would otherwise."

The township’s plans also anticipate the placement of numerous benches along the trail, the development of a picnic area near the park’s southern end and the planting of gardens with fragrant plants.

"There will be things to smell and listen to," Friesema said. "It will be designed for interaction."

She also added that local scout troops have offered to post signs identifying local flora and fauna, and the township eventually hopes to erect an observation platform on the boardwalk section of the trail where users can closer observe the wetlands.

Friesema noted that DCNR has not yet announced whether they have approved the township’s application for the grant, which are typically awarded between August and February.

"If we are fortunate, we will be able to start construction next spring," she said. "If not, we will have to wait until 2014." More WEST COCALICO, page A11

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