The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

May 16, 2014

$3.7M ATV park a reality

Recreation area opens, puts Valley on map, pols say

— COAL TOWNSHIP — The excitement and optimism from state and Valley officials were palpable at the ribbon-cutting and grand opening Friday of the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.

“It’s cool to see all the out-of-state folks coming to Coal Township, Pennsylvania,” state Sen. John R. Gordner said to a crowd of more than 80 at the trailhead. “It’s a destination. Coal Township is a destination, which is awesome.”

With an investment of more than $3.7 million so far in state and federal funds, Gordner said the Corbett administration considers the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area the “most exciting project in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania” and all other similar facilities “pale in comparison.”

The park, which will cater to off-road motorized vehicles, hunters, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, is located along Route 125 on 6,500 acres of forest and abandoned coal land in Coal, East Cameron, Mount Carmel, West Cameron and Zerbe townships.

With a cut of a ribbon from Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area Authority member Barry Yorwarth, Friday ushered in today’s first public ride for off-highway vehicle users at the park.

One of the goals of the park — facilitating economic growth in the area — is happening, said Gordner, R-27, of Berwick.

He noted storage units, campgrounds and business advertisements along Route 125.

“That’s why we’re making the investment,” he said.

Those business owners know what’s coming, said state Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107, of Elysburg, who was involved in the project at the county level when he was a Northumberland County commissioner.

“This is going to be the destination for the entire middle part of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Masser said. “And I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi said the park is the “only chance” for economic development in Northumberland County.

State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-108, Sunbury, told those involved in the project that the public demanded and they responded.

“I believe that this project is probably bigger than any of us can imagine at this moment,” she said.

Kathy Jeremiah, the park’s project coordinator and county planning commission grants manager, was praised for her hard work and dedication to the project.

Today and Sunday will be the first time day, weekend and season passes will be available to the general public.

The park will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Activities, including bounce houses for children and all-terrain vehicle simulators, will be available for everyone. Vehicle dealerships and local food vendors will also be present with their products.

Other speakers included state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti, Frank Mazza from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, Department of Community and Economic Development representative Yvonne Lemelle, state Department of Environmental Protection Williamsport executive director Marcus Kohl, Coal Township manager Rob Slaby Jr., Zerbe Township Supervisor Michael Mazer and Anthracite Trail Riders treasurer Mary Ellen Dilliplane.

Other dignitaries included Northumberland County Commissioners Stephen Bridy and Rick Shoch, former county Commissioner Frank Sawicki, all five members of the AOAA Authority, members of the Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce and Coal Township Commissioners Bernie Rumberger and Paul Leshinskie, among others.

 

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