Pennsy Trail grant for possible next installment due Aug. 1

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The Eagle Station trailhead on the Pennsy Trail, just west of South CR 400W, is a newer installation that was part of a collaborative effort among local boy scouts, master gardeners and trail advocates.

HANCOCK COUNTY — The Board of Commissioners for Hancock County signed off on round four of the Next Level Trails grant application for expansion of Pennsy Trails.

Mary Ann Weitbrock, president of Pennsy Trails of Hancock County Inc, went before commissioners Bill Spalding and Gary McDaniel to get signatures for the Next Level Trails grant. Commissioner John Jessup was absent at the July 18 meeting.

If awarded this grant, requested funds would be provided for the Pennsy Trails in Hancock County to connect from 300W trail head to 400W connection, expected to be completed in 2025 according to the Pennsy Trails Connection in Hancock County summary of management and maintenance plan.

This would connect to the stretch of trail between 400W and 600W, furthering the connection between Cumberland and Greenfield.

“We have to, hopefully, submit it and have enough information in there that makes it suitable, and so it is part of the visionary plan for the state,” Weitbrock said. “We’re hoping it will be considered.”

If received, the requested amount on the application is $722,036, which will fund items such as utilities, engineering and construction of the trail. Of the amount, there is a minimum of a 20% match by the commissioners; however, commissioners signed in support of a 24.5% match, or $233,783. The percentage match supported by the commissioners would not be available until 2024.

WSP Engineering would be the ones designing the trail if granted the funds from the Next Level Trails grant.

Weitbrock also presented an easement that was offered by RHSC, LLC, that would allow the county, if grant approved, to build the trail on part of their property, specifically listed between 350 W and 300 W.

Hancock County engineer Gary Pool is providing oversight of the entire project and helping with written and verbal communications with the DNR, allocating construction funds from the DNR and managing construction contacts and county employees to help complete the project.

Pool said the easement was offered with the condition that there would have to be a fence built by the county that separates the trail from the rest of their property. Mentioned in the easement, the fence must be complete before the trail should open and be a minimum of 6 feet tall.

At the meeting, county attorney Scott Benkie, mentioned that a term was not set on easement, and that they would add on a term letter of perpetual, meaning there is not a set expiration date.

Commissioners motioned and passed the acceptance of the easement once the term letter is received and confirmed.

The deadline for the Next Level Trails grant is Aug. 1.

Future updates about the trails can be found at PennsyTrails.org, their newsletter or Facebook page, The Pennsy Trails of Hancock County.