Without Trails

Groundbreaking held for Wisecarver Recreation Area

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Local and state officials met Thursday at the site of the Wisecarver Recreation Area in Franklin Township as the beginning of Phase I construction of the softball facility and hiking trail project got underway.

“This project will include the construction of a softball field, parking lot and the beginning of a walking trail,” said Richard Cleveland, executive director of Greene County development. “The total cost (of the first phase) is approximately $800,000 and should be completed in the fall of 2021.”

Over the past half-decade, the county’s board of commissioners has been working with other officials and entities on the development of the 360-acre recreational area, which is expected to include an access drive, parking area, pedestrian walkways and stormwater management measures, along with other related site improvements.

Located off of Waterdam Road in Waynesburg, the Wisecarver Recreation Area project is a multimillion-dollar outdoor recreation area also offering the reservoir, softball fields, a walking trail, mountain bike trails and numerous other recreational opportunities.

Commissioner Mike Belding said at the groundbreaking ceremony the project has been “a long time coming.”

“For the longest time, this project was just a plan, a theory … but during the COVID-19 pandemic we were given the opportunity to develop a staff and really focus on Wisecarver and see what could be done to start moving forward,” he said. ”It was decided that the best way to take on this project was break it down in a series of projects, phases … once Phase 1 is done, we can start looking at obtaining funding to move forward.“

Belding said future phases will include access for model airplanes and drones, an ADA-approved kayak launch, another softball field, an archery range and an outdoor theater.

Belding said the recreation area will be essential in bringing economic diversity to the county.

“It is estimated that there are 1.1 million people within a 60-mile radius of Greene County, so the question is, ‘How do we get them here?’” he said. “Amenities are crucial. We need to offer amenities that will entice people to come here … if not move here, then at least visit here, stay here in our hotels, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants. This recreation area will be an important piece of that.”

Greene County commissioners were joined at the groundbreaking by state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll Township and county Recreation director Bret Moore.

Plans to enhance the Wisecarver Recreation Area had been in development for years.

Belding said after various delays, the current board of commissioners became “diligent” in moving the project forward, contacting the state Department of Environmental Protection and securing permits and then applying for state funding.

Last October, Snyder and the commissioners announced another $200,000 state DCNR grant had been awarded to develop the recreation area. In April 2020, the county submitted a grant application and officials were notified in September the county was awarded the $200,000 grant.

In May, commissioners approved a cooperative grant agreement between the county and the state’s Fish and Boat Commission for construction of facilities at the Wisecarver Recreation Area.

Belding said at that time the grant would reimburse 50% of cost or up to $85,845 to help pay for the completion of an ADA compliant kayak and canoe launch as well as an investment in access improvements for the recreation project.

In early June, the commissioners awarded a contract to Costabile Construction of Smock, which submitted the lowest bid for construction of the Wisecarver Recreation Area softball facility and hiking trail.

Commissioners also approved a proposal from Mackin Engineering for construction management and construction inspection services for the WRA’s softball facility and Phase 1 of the trail project in the amount of $40,493.

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