Riverfront park planned for downtown Johnstown

Plans for a riverfront park have trails superimposed over an aerial photograph of the hillside behind the Inclined Plane bridge in downtown Johnstown. Orange represents the recently completed mountain bike trail, blue is for current hiking trails and red is a proposed zipline. A ceremony was held Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, to recognize $60,000 in funding for the project.

A $225,000 state conservation grant will support the creation of a riverfront park near the base of the Johnstown Inclined Plane that will feature a kayak launch, a fishing pier and trails, the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday.

Brad Clemenson, coordinator of Lift Johnstown, one of the organizations that is moving the project forward, said Thursday that the announcement is “great news” that will “definitely leave us poised to get (the park) built in the next year or so.”

“The Inclined Plane park project is a huge priority,” Clemenson said. “It’s one of the projects we’re convinced can really change Johnstown’s identity and help people recognize that this is a hub for outstanding recreational opportunities. It’s a centerpiece of what makes the Johnstown region a wonderful place to live, work and play.”

The construction of the park, which would be accessible from the Inclined Plane Bridge, is planned as part of the ongoing development of the Inclined Plane hillside and the nearby Stonycreek River as a destination for mountain bikers, hikers, kayakers and other outdoors enthusiasts.

Clemenson said that the $225,000 grant amount represents half of the total estimated project cost, $450,000, and that “tentative commitments” are in place for the remainder of the funding. The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission committed $30,000 each to the project when plans were first unveiled in August of 2018.

Johnstown City Council voted in April to transfer the proposed site of the park to Conemaugh Valley Conservancy for the nominal sum of $1.

The grant was one of 27 awarded through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnership Program.

Projects funded by the round of grants, which total around $2.2 million, include stream and floodplain restoration, conservation planning, dam removal and construction of river access points, among others.

“Local parks improve the everyday lives of people of all places, ages and backgrounds while serving as a primary venue for recreation for Pennsylvanians,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said in a press release Thursday. “We are happy to assist Johnstown … by investing in its first riverside public park so that residents and visitors can experience a greater connection to the Stonycreek (River) and have fun on the water.”

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

Recommended for you