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School trail could be revived

May 4, 2010
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Local interest in reviving the Harry and Julia Wilson Nature Trail behind Pleasant Avenue Elementary School surfaced again at meetings of the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education and its Facilities Committee last week.

The groups noted that interest in the trail, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years, has come and gone.

The trail is owned by the school district, but area citizens and Boy Scout Troop 112 have helped revitalize it the last couple years. The nature area behind Pleasant Avenue Elementary School often was used for recreation and educational purposes, but a storm in the mid-2000s caused considerable damage.

Superintendent Katherine Sullivan told the Facilities Committee that the district tried to "revisit" revitalization of the trail last year. She said the plan was to have the Pleasant Avenue Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association maintain it after being cleaned up by the Boy Scouts.

"That never happened," Sullivan said.

She said school Principal Jeffrey Vivenzio asked that a parent who has shown interest be allowed to head a new committee to revive the trail once again.

District Director of Facilities and Operations E.J. Maye said the "first loop" of the trail is passable, but bridges are out. He said fixing the trail involves "more time than cost."

He said he wants his crews to start doing bridge work.

"We'd be doing the foundation of it," Maye said.

Committee Chairman Scott Miller said the district once had a small amount of money budgeted for repairs at the trail.

Maye said the question remains whether the district wants to use the trail area as a future "educational tool" for its students.

"It's a great science project," Sullivan said, noting the JHS Science Club could be involved.

Interim business consultant Ralph Acquaro, a former superintendent of the Mayfield Central School District, said the Mayfield district received help for its nature trail from people ordered by the court system to do community service.

Miller told the full board, which met after his committee, that the Boy Scouts and Maye's staff have done "a lot of work" on the trail.

He said the district will see how the volunteer committee progresses with work at the trail.



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