County accepts ‘Rails To Trails’ feasibility study

SMETHPORT – The “Rails To Trails” feasibility study has been finalized and now is available for public inspection at the county planning office.The McKean County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday that claims the “project was completed in accordance with the grant agreement.”“The plan and related materials will be used to guide future recreation and conservation decisions,” the commissioners said in the resolution adopted at a meeting at the county courthouse.The study, which began more than a year ago, looks at possible trail uses on the 69.9-mile corridor for the defunct Knox and Kane Railroad. The study covers sections of Elk, Forest and Clarion counties as well as McKean County.Debbie Lunden, director of the McKean County Planning Commission, told the commissioners Tuesday that the study is merely “a guide for development.” She said the “only way” trails would ever be built within the corridor is if public groups became involved.“It’s just a feasibility study,” Lunden told the commissioners. “The next step is for groups to come forward.”The firm of Johnson, Mirimiran & Thompson (JMT) of Moon Township near Pittsburgh prepared the study. Many public meetings were held in the past year to gather input from residents in the four counties.Lunden said “it seemed” that about “half the people” favored the development of trails, while the other half expressed opposition. She said most of the opponents were strongly against motorized uses such as trails for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.