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Centre County Recreation Projects Receive More Than $950,000 in State Grants

Six recreation projects in Centre County will receive a combined $953,400 in funding as part of state grant allocations announced on Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

The grants are among $70 million awarded to 317 projects statewide from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Community Conservation Partnerships Program. Funding comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, fees for ATV/Snowmobile licenses and federal money.

“Our outdoor places are among the things that tie us all together – a place to meet for our health, for enjoyment, for recreation and a draw for tourists,” Wolf said in a statement. “Many of the projects being funded – improvements to local parks, trails, and river access – bring these amenities closer to home, requiring less driving and expense to experience at a time during the pandemic when these opportunities are recognized as critical to our well-being.”

Funding is awarded to projects to rehabilitate or develop recreation, park and conservation areas; preservation of open space; construction of streamside forest buffers; and non-motorized and motorized trail projects.

Projects generally require a minimum matching contribution from the applicant of 50% of the total cost.

In Centre County, the following projects were awarded funding on Thursday.

• Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority received $166,800 for work on a portion of the Phase 2 expansion of Millbrook Marsh Nature Centre. The funding will be used for construction of a welcome pavilion, information kiosk, comfort station, walkway, ADA access, landscaping and stormwater management measures.

Phase 2 also includes renovation and expansion of the Spring Creek Education Building, more than doubling the size of the existing facility. Fundraising for the building expansion was completed earlier this year and construction is expected to begin in 2022.

• Patton Township received $125,000 to be used toward the Phase 2 development of Bernel Road Park. Funds will be used for construction of a pump track, pedestrian walkway and stormwater management measures, as well as ADA access and landscaping.

The work is part of the next phase of the Bernel Road Park master plan. In late 2020, the township approved land development plans that would also include two new basketball courts, fitness equipment area, a challenge course and new parking. The new phase would be located along Bernel Road, down from the existing playground area.

The construction estimate for all elements of the plan was $1.7 million, with the township anticipating beginning work in 2022 on a portion of the plan estimated at $650,000.

• Centre Hall Borough was awarded $250,000 for further development of Tri-Municipal Park, including construction of a pavilion, comfort station, nature play area, pedestrian walkways, internal loop trail, parking area and stormwater management measures; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing; and ADA access and landscaping.

• Burnside Township received $100,300, for further development of Burnside Park, including construction of a pedestrian walkway, internal loop trail, comfort station and parking area; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing, fencing and bleachers; and ADA access and landscaping.

Snow Shoe Rails to Trails Association was awarded grants of $92,100 and $166,500 for the purchase of equipment to maintain and construct approximately 19 miles of the Snow Shoe Rail Trail in Snow Shoe and Rush townships.

• ClearWater Conservancy received $50,000 for the Centred Outdoors and Prescription PARx programs. Launched in 2017, Centred Outdoors provides free guided adventures at destinations around Central Pennsylvania with goal of helping community members connect with the environment and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of being outside. Prescription PARx is part of the Centred Outdoors program, with Mount Nittany Health medical professionals writing prescriptions for patients to spend time being active in nature.

Two regional projects involving Centre County also received funding.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy was awarded $37,000 to prepare an update to the 2000 River Conservation Plan for the Juniata River Watershed in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder and Somerset counties.

Chesapeake Conservancy received $50,000 for construction of approximately 7 acres of riparian forest buffers along waterways in the Susquehanna River Watershed in Huntingdon, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Union and Snyder counties. Work will include landowner outreach and engagement, as well as buffer plantings and post-planning establishment.