Allegheny County parks officials traveled to Collier Tuesday with their fingers crossed that residents would endorse a connector multiuse trail between the township's Panhandle Trail and Settlers Cabin Park.
They weren't disappointed.
Although the group of about 30 residents of varying ages had some questions and suggestions during the hourlong session, no one objected to the proposal that would link the popular Collier trail with the county-owned Settlers Cabin Park that covers 1,600 acres in Collier, North Fayette and Robinson.
"There's so much opportunity," said Collier resident Craig Cozza. "It's beautiful back there."
Noting that South Park recently was connected to the Montour Trail, Andy Baechle, county parks director, explained that one of the county's goals is to connect as many parks as possible to the trail system.
"It's just a natural progression that we try to connect Settlers Cabin to the Panhandle Trail," he said. "I just can't wait to tap into it."
The 0.67-mi. connection, expected to cost about $500,000, will be called the Panhandle Connector Trail. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is providing a $250,000 grant for the work that is being matched by the county.
Surveyors and engineers already have been on the scene measuring footage and figuring out possible site disturbance and water runoff impacts.
The trail will include benches for taking breaks, guide rails, asphalt paving, and natural boulders and stones to retain the steeper surrounding hillsides. Design consultant Andy Mears said it is hoped much of the trail can be widened from its current 10-12 foot width.
"We want to make sure we get as much bang for the DCNR's buck as possible," added Dave Wright, county engineer.
Besides providing beautiful scenery, the trail will give visitors a glimpse of the past, too, because it will pass by the log cabin owned by the Pioneers West Historical Society.
The home is more than 250 years old.
Construction on the trail is expected to start in spring 2014 with 30 percent of the work completed by June, said landscape architect Sara Moore.
She added, "The fact that you can get on that trail one day and go to another state is very exciting," she said. The 29-mile Panhandle Trail stretches from the Walkers Mill section of Collier to Colliers, W.Va.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: email@example.com.