BY COREY GESFORD
Forest City wants to become a Rail Trail Town. About 30 people gathered Friday morning at the Delaware and Hudson trailhead in Forest City to hear Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn speak about the connection between Pennsylvania’s extensive trails and towns – like Forest City – and how each can benefit.
Forest City was the third stop in Adams Dunn’s week-long trek in the northeast part of the state to highlight different types of trails that exist in Pennsylvania’s extensive trail system. The Delaware and Hudson Trail (D&H) trailhead runs two miles to the south and eight miles to the north of Forest City and the entire D&H trail runs from the New York state border near Susquehanna to 38 miles south to Route 171 in Simpson.
In Simpson, the D&H connects with the 32-mile Lackawanna River Heritage Trail (LRHT) to connect nearly 70 miles of trails to be used for recreational purposes.
The DCNR and the Rail-Trail Council of NEPA are working to bring communities along the trails in cooperative agreements to highlight the recreational opportunities for local residents and the possibility of drawing travelers to those communities.
“This is the perfect example of what Governor Wolf and DCNR are trying to do where you can enhance quality of life and the economy of a community through an asset like this Rail Trail,” said Adams Dunn. “That (it) will bring quality of life to the locals but also bring visitors in that will spend money and see the community. “
Forest City Mayor Christopher Glinton is excited about the opportunities that being part of an extensive trail system offer small boroughs such as Forest City.
“First of all, it’s going to put us more on the map,” said Glinton. “Say someone gets on the Rail Trail in Carlisle and they work their way up the line and instead of stopping in Carbondale they can continue up to us.”
Glinton echoed what Secretary Dunn and Lynn Conrad of the Rail-Trail Council emphasize that there is an opportunity to draw people into their communities and see the different shops and stores that exist along the main street of these small communities. He said that he and the Forest City Borough Council are working on ideas to promote Forest City and make travelers on the trail know what Forest City offers.
Conrad said the council is working with towns along the trail so that travelers know how to get to the towns and the trail can be part of an economic revitalization to the areas that once benefited from the railroad lines that ran through them.
The Trailhead in Forest City is approximately a quarter mile from Main Street, but Conrad emphasized that people still need to know how to get there, so it’s important that there is signage and promotional material to encourage the travelers to frequent the local restaurants, shops, and stores.
“It’s not just a recreational project, but we hope that it provides some economic revival for these towns such as Forest City, Thompson, Starrucca,” said Conrad.
While signage and maps are one of the ways the Council works with local communities to encourage Trail riders to visit local towns, they also look for unique ways to accomplish the task as well.
“One of the things we’ve discussed with Forest City Borough is using stencils to mark the streets, so that people could leave the trail and follow the paths on the street up to main street,” said Conrad.
Glinton, who by profession is an event planner, also sees different ways to connect the town to the D&H Trail is by coordinating events in town to events along the trail. Glinton used the D&H Distance Run that was held on Sunday as an example of such event.
“If I had realized sooner, maybe I could have run an art show or antiques market for example,” added Glinton. “This is a beautiful area and whatever we can do to draw people to it, we need to do.”