EBENSBURG – A six-figure grant received by the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority will put the authority closer to completing the Ghost Town Trail loop, officials said Friday.

The $282,524 award was announced in a letter sent late Thursday to Tom Kakabar, authority board chairman, by Cindy Adams Dunn, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources secretary, who called it “a recognition of outstanding recreation and conservation work that should be shared with your community.” 

Dunn’s letter was read aloud by Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky during Friday morning’s meeting of the authority’s board.

The grant came from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, which is administered by DCNR. Added to a $100,000 award previously given by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, it brings the total amount of money available for completion of the Ghost Town Trail loop to $382,524.

“We’re off and running with success on our grant funding to complete the loop,” Kakabar told authority board members Friday, “so keep your fingers crossed that we’ll successfully be awarded the balance of the funds.”

The authority is also pursuing further awards of $250,000 through the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program and $3 million through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Multimodal Transportation Fund, said Cliff Kitner, the authority’s executive director.

A little more than five miles of trail must be built in Cambria and Blacklick townships to complete the Ghost Town Trail system as a continuous loop, a longtime goal of Cambria County recreation leaders. Kitner estimated the total cost of completing the loop at approximately $2.9 million, but said a portion of the loop would be built even if the total amount of money available is less than that.

“You request money – you get a piece of it,” he said after Friday’s meeting. “Even if this was the only funding we got right now, we’re still going to build trail. … If this is the only money we got, we’re still going to add a piece to that loop.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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