The Outdoor Towns Initiative for Forest City, which began in 2021 via a grant opportunity provided by the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and grant match monies provided by the Forest City Borough and Rail Trail Council of NEPA, continues in 2022. The project was initially guided by Eastwick Solutions, a firm from Doylestown, PA and executed via the collaboration of multiple community entities and members, making up Forest City’s “Outdoor Towns Action Team”. The goal of the project in 2021 was to gather information from the community and identify top priority “action” items that will support community and commerce growth, while utilizing our area’s natural resources.
The project now continues independently via the Action Team. The team’s second meeting of 2022 was held via Zoom on March 17th. Representatives were present from multiple community organizations, including Forest City Borough, Greater Forest City Business Alliance, Forest City Historical Society, Rail Trail Council of NEPA and Greater Forest City Industries.
The group discussed the structure of the team moving forward. As mentioned, this team is constructed of representatives from multiple community organizations, all of whom are coming together to keep the Outdoor Towns vision moving forward. Identifying a “lead” organization to maintain cohesiveness of the group and maximize resources and grant application backing are high priorities as we evolve and progress. The importance of considering 501c3, 501c6, and municipality status of the contributing organizations influences strategies and funding as we identify and pursue projects. Liabilities to each organization were also discussed.
Lynn Conrad, who was present at the meeting, updated the group on a project that was identified within the Action Plan – specifically the need to make “Erie Street and Center Street an inviting portal to Main Street”. Lynn and Katie Cicilioni met with Bill Graziano, a teacher at Forest City Regional High School, and two of his students, Evan and Brayden Piatak. One will use the project as a senior project, with assistance from the second. The project includes creating an inviting arch, marking the exit from the trail toward town. Rail Trail Council will be purchasing two pressure-treated posts and the students will design and build the top arch, with assistance from welding students at the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County. Dr. Tom Baileys, CTC Director, will help to coordinate. The project will require some modifications to fencing and brush clearing. The intent is for the project to be completed by June 2022.
Ideas for more projects at the Erie and Center Street trail portal included landscaping, painting, and mural projects, an amphitheater at Center Street green space, and more bike racks on Main Street. The potential for collaboration with the school and students for senior and community service projects is strong. Additionally, the consideration for larger projects including a sidewalk from the trailhead to Center Street or a “painted brick sidewalk”, to mark the pathway was discussed.
The Action Team will continue to meet monthly, with our next meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 21, 2022. We will continue to update the community via press releases regularly.
Additionally, we would love to see our team expand. If you are interested in participating with the action team, please reach out to Erin Debish, Action Team Leader, at email@example.com.