The Mon-Yough Trail Council, which maintains The Boston Trail segment of the Great Allegheny Passage, is working on two capital improvement projects for next year.
Thanks to a grant from the Kenneth Frew Foundation, the council will build a 60-foot long structure similar to a train platform next to the visitors center at the Boston trailhead and erect a pavilion at the popular Dravo Campground.
"The pavilion is a much-needed addition to a busy facility," said Council vice president Dan Piesik.
He also said the grant will cover the cost of materials and the multi-talented council members will do the work.
Both structures are expected to be completed in the spring.
The pavilion will overlook designated campsites, a stone fireplace and an open space also used for camping, and its location also will be close to nearby restrooms.
The council, which maintains a 15-mile section of the trail from the 15th Street Bridge in McKeesport to Smithdale, will have an easier time mowing the 30 miles of grass berms next year thanks to a recent addition to its maintenance fleet.
"It's a new diesel-powered New Holland No. 35 front-loader with a 60-inch wide mid-mower, complete with an all-weather cab," Piesik said. "We've also added a 6-foot brush hog to cut the heavy stuff."
Anyone responsible for mowing a large lawn will appreciate how much time it takes to mow 30 miles of grass, one 5-foot wide swath at a time.
That's especially true in the spring when the grass has be cut more frequently than once a week.
"Charlie's already had it out for a test run," Piesik said, referring to Charlie Smith, one of the council's many can-do volunteers.
Piesik said Smith and member Terry Farrell "were instrumental" in obtaining the Frew grant for the construction projects, the multi-purpose tractor and the brush hog.
Council president Bill Hall said sponsors and donors are "the greatest source of funds" for the all-volunteer organization's trail-maintenance program.
They are listed in the current issue of The Milepost, council's quarterly newsletter, and on the bulletin board at the Boston trailhead.
"Our goal is to encourage trail-users to recognize and support these trail benefactors whose generous support will keep this dream a reality for now and for generations to come."
In a recent letter to potential sponsors, Hall described the council as "a group of dedicated volunteers" who proudly maintain its segment of the passage for bicyclists using it for short rides as well as long-distance cyclists pedaling to or from Pittsburgh, Cumberland, Md., and Washington, D.C.
He noted the trail's "gentle grade," its "isolation from motor vehicles" and its "inherently scenic landscapes that offer people of all ages and levels of physical ability a place where they can safely bicycle, walk, jog, cross country ski and [in certain sections] even ride horses.
"[Our] Youghiogheny River Trail attracts more than 750,000 visitors annually to the Boston trailhead," he wrote.
"It is a trail to health, recreation, jobs, history, nature and more.
"It is a benefit to individuals, families, businesses, communities and others. And it is absolutely free to the public."
He reminded council members to "keep in mind what we have and who we are.
"Indeed, this wonderful trail, with all of its benefits, is our ward, and it is our responsibility, our mission, to maintain it."
The council, founded in 1991, meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month in the social hall of the Greenock Fire Company. Its work parties are held every Saturday at the end of Locust Grove in Greenock.
For more information: www.The BostonTrail.com (as of Nov. 1); 412-754-1100.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.