By Natalie Gelb
One of the main goals of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley is to tell the region’s story. As we embark on a new year of projects and programs, we aspire not only to share the story, but also to make the story better. To that end, we will continue to develop our most visible project, the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail (LRHT) and engage in partnerships with community organizations to enhance the quality of life in the Heritage Area.
Trail users have a lot to look forward to this year. In Scranton, a $1 million safety improvement project will create safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing intersections at Elm, Broadway and Poplar streets in South Scranton; Olive Street in Central Scranton; and Albright Avenue, Green Ridge and East Market Streets in North Scranton. The project is made possible through funding support and collaboration among LHVA, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Multimodal Transportation, PennDOT, Lackawanna County, the City of Scranton and The University of Scranton.
Plans are underway for a 1.1 mile section of trail in Dickson City that will connect the borough to Olyphant, creating an alternative route for those who currently travel on Main Avenue, as well as access to the river for fishing and boating. In the future, this also will link Dickson City to Throop for walkers and cyclists to get to the Mid Valley School Campus. The project is funded by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) and PennDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
The Carbondale Riverwalk is scheduled for completion in 2017. The 1.2 mile section of the LRHT in Carbondale will connect to a 2.2 mile section in Fell Township that will provide a direct link to the D&H Rail-Trail in Susquehanna County. Also in the Upper Valley, BikeCarbondale, the sister program to BikeScranton, will offer free bike rentals at the Greater Carbondale YMCA and the Carbondale Grand Hotel & Conference Center.
When construction of the 2.2-mile pathway between Simpson and Vandling is complete, the trail will connect 62 miles from Taylor to the New York State border at Lansboro, Pa.
In addition to trail development, LHV is collaborating with its partners on programs and events to fulfill its mission to preserve and promote the region’s history, cultural heritage and natural resources. Piecing Together the Past, a joint project of LHV and Steamtown National Historic Site (NHS), this geocaching program takes participants on a hunt to 12 historic sites in Scranton, including: Albright Memorial Library, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Courthouse Square, Electric City Trolley Museum, Everhart Museum, Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, Lackawanna Historical Society, Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, Radisson Lackawanna Station, Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, Scranton Iron Furnaces and Steamtown National Historic Site.
For those not familiar with geo-caching, it’s described on geocaching.com as a “real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.” Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the hidden geocache. The hidden caches at each site will contain a puzzle piece with a photo of that location. Once all 12 pieces are collected, geo-cachers will present their assembled puzzle to officials at Steamtown NHS to redeem a prize. There is no fee to participate in this self-guided tour.
Piecing Together the Past will launch on April 15 as part of National Park Weekend. On April 15 and 16, and April 22 and 23, Steamtown and all National Parks will offer free admission. Look for details at lhva.org andnps.gov/stea.
A new year also means the start of a new cycle of grant funding through LHV’s Partnership Grant Program. Since its inception, LHV has provided $3,375,903 in grants to non-profit organizations for projects and programs in place-based education, interpretive programming, historic preservation, cultural conservation, community trails, and community and economic development. In 2016, $18,327 was awarded to 17 partner organizations. This investment in NEPA stimulates the economy, enhances tourism initiatives, strengthens community organizations, and increases the quality of life for area residents.
Natalie Gelb is executive director of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley (LHV). Email her at email@example.com