City aims to include boat launch in regional grant effort

Whether the City of Warren will secure the funding to ultimately build a downtown boat launch isn’t yet clear.

What is clear, though, is that it won’t be for a lack of trying.

The project is now expected to be part of a PA Wilds grant application through the U.S. Economic Development Agency’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

“PA Wilds is the lead agency for coordinating and writing the Build Back Better grant application that is associated with travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation,” Vince DeJoy, the city’s director of zoning, codes and economic development, explained.

He provided the documentation that he “prepared collaborating with Jim Decker and (the) Trestle-to-Trestle Taskforce.”

The draft said the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship’s proposal “will propel our rural region into a world class recreation industry cluster.”

“This project will include a multi-use boat launch suitable for kayaks, canoes, and small power watercraft with a dock, pedestrian walkways, and boat trailer parking that will all be built to ADA requirements,” the application details. “A new extension of the riverwalk will be constructed behind the former Loranger Building (HIY, Inc.) along Clark Street. Currently, the pathway is undeveloped and is not suitable as a walking path.”

The proposal also includes a proposed bicycle pump track and skills park “on property owned by the city that is also on the river’s edge and adjacent to the Tops Markets and a commercial retail strip plaza.”

The city asserts that $1.5 million in state redevelopment assistance capital program funds has been committed to the project and that the city also has completed conceptual design engineering and site plans “for the boat launch and improved parking areas to support this area as a trailhead. Approval of a design (and) budget consultation contract for the bike park portion of the project is anticipated in October.”

Total project cost is estimated at $3.5 million but the city makes the argument about the benefit to the community.

“A conservative estimate of 10,000 launches from the new boat launch will have a conservative estimated economic impact over $500,000 per year,” the application states. “With the addition of the bike pump track and skills course as well as a new boutique hotel — that estimated economic impact climbs to $1,250,000.

“These infrastructure assets will further Warren’s Nature-Based Placemaking strategy for Allegheny Riverfront development.”

A proposed timeline details a construction window of September 2022 through Sept. 2023.

“We will be meeting with and working with Ta Enos from PA Wilds as we embark upon the process of putting together all the narratives, drawings, preliminary engineering, cost estimates, letters of support, and other necessary documents that will be necessary to build a very strong application for consideration,” DeJoy said.

City Manager Nancy Freenock noted that the final version “may not be verbatim what will be included in the final application.”


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