COAL TOWNSHIP — Years of work and patience could pay off Saturday for Northumberland County officials when the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area holds its first public ride and grand opening.
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 lands in Coal, East Cameron, Mount Carmel, West Cameron and Zerbe townships.
Approximately $3.6 million has been spent so far on the project with money allocated from various state and federal grants.
Like giving birth
Project manager Kathy Jeremiah, who works as the county grants manager in the planning commission, compared the creation of the park to the birth of her child.
“It’s been a five-year pregnancy for me,” she said.
Despite opposition over the years, the park is already helping the local economy, Jeremiah said.
Earthday Campground along Upper Road in Shamokin and Jones Enterprises storage units in Burnside opened recently to accommodate riders, she said.
Plus, many local business such as the Turkey Hill in Shamokin and Brewser’s SportsGrille in Coal Township have seen an increase in business since the park became available for special events last year, Jeremiah said.
This weekend, at least 12 vendors, including One Smart Cookie that has frequently provided food for events in the last year, will be open for hungry riders.
“This is what the commissioners wanted to build and promote,” Jeremiah said. “This is the economic engine for the lower anthracite area.”
She foresees more businesses popping up as the park becomes established.
Jeremiah wants everyone — even those not riding — to come out this weekend to experience what is taking place on the property.
Activities, including bounce houses for children and ATV simulators, will be available for everyone, she said.
Vehicle dealerships will also be present with their products, Jeremiah said.
Most of the heavy lifting in order to have the park ready for this weekend is done; only small housekeeping issues are left, AOAA Authority chairman Jim Backes said.
“I’m feeling good. A lot of hard work happened to get it to this point,” he said.