MANSFIELD — After receiving the much-anticipated approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Mansfield borough council can now begin to develop a walking and biking trail along the Tioga River and eventually connect it with Lambs Creek trail, Route 6 bike trail and the Mansfield High School.
The plan will develop 1.34 miles of trail, stabilization of a historic milk plant and add educational and way-finding signage.
This project will revitalize Mansfield and give tourists more reasons to visit the borough, Mansfield council member Steve McCloskey said. It’ll also be a point of history and education.
Right now, the trail begins in an area behind the plaza, near the borough’s water treatment plant and borough’s workshop. The project will bring the trailhead out to Main Street, where people can park in the plaza and walk to the trail much easier, rather than having to walk through a work area.
The Corey Creek area is the “absolute birthplace of Mansfield,” McCloskey said. Benjamin Corey, the first settler of Mansfield, arrived in 1797 and lived with his wife and kids in a hut along the east side of the Tioga River. This area is also where the railroad was, as it came through Mansfield in 1840, bringing coal from Blossburg. Also in that area stands an old milk plant; at one time, the milk plant was one of the largest producers of powdered milk in the country.
Signs will be placed in these areas and others to explain the historical importance of each site.
The borough voted to apply for a $250,000 grant from the Greenways Trails and Recreation Program to help bring this trail to life. This will be the first piece of the trail projects, Chris McGann, borough manager said, and the borough is looking at the northern section to tie into the Army Corps trail. There is a local match of $43,914.88, which the borough already has.
This project has been on the minds of council members since 1977. The councils had ideas for recreational enhancement, McCloskey said, but for whatever the reason, it didn’t happen.
For the last two years, the borough council has been consistent on making contacts, plans and developments on the project, but needed approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. The borough council has been waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to sign off on the project for two years and just received the contract from the Corps on Monday, May 18.
“I can’t tell you the joy that’s in my heart,” McCloskey said. “...We are on the cusp of changing what Mansfield is.”
The contract will allow the borough to have the surface rights to the conduit and will allow the borough to develop it.
The project in total has several phases. The first and current phase is planned for later this year, and is connecting the trail to North Main Street.
“One thing that we’ve noticed is usage of the trail has skyrocketed during this crisis. I mean, skyrocketed. What a better time to be able to come out of this by enhancing that opportunity,” McCloskey said. “So people … have rediscovered walking and biking and outdoor recreation and now we’re going to provide them a venue that’s more aesthetically pleasing that historically enhances who we are and what we are and how we became what we are, and a recreational opportunity that is better than what it was before.”
Other aspects of this project to come include renovating and restoring the historic gate house and a first night football game monument, adding benches along the trail, stabilizing the foundation of the milk house and creating ADA parking spaces, curb cuts and signage.