Thankfully, there are multiple individuals with decades’-worth of gardening experience who, quite eagerly, have answered all of my questions. I never knew what I was missing until my very first plants (which were kale, beets, and carrots last year) had sprouted. This joy is available to anyone! In my second year, I’ve been blessed with that same irrefutable joy of witnessing my crops come to life in the soil provided by the garden.
One of the unforeseen benefits with this project is how it has engaged the staff in making energy consumption reductions throughout the building. The staff started calculating the energy demands of specific areas of the building and started targeting energy-efficient lighting upgrades to those areas. This story was publicized in the local news and the park was contacted by a local electrical retailer who wanted to get involved in our efforts to reduce consumption in the building. As it turned out in the end, the local retailer donated another $20,000 in LED lighting upgrades to the building, which will not only lower our total electrical needs over time, but ultimately reduce man-hours in maintenance with the longer lifespan of new LED bulbs.
While this project will not offer a bright, shiny new amenity for our park visitors to see and appreciate, it is crucial to maintaining a water production and distribution system that does allow for our visitors to use comfort facilities, fill their bottles at a water fountain, or take a shower at one of our modern cabins. This project will improve part of the skeleton of the park that supports so many of the other amenities, and this will be accomplished through Keystone funding.
I drive every day up Market Street which runs parallel to the bike path and there’s always a lot of traffic on the path, whether it’s people running, walking, or riding their bicycles. The path is relatively flat, which is great for beginners, families, and those looking to add some exercise in their daily routine.
The more I ran at Marilla, the more I felt responsible to expose this hidden gem to the trail running community at large. Out of that obligation, the Marilla Trail Race was born; 2017 will be the event’s fourth year. It has brought hundreds of runners from across the country to Bradford and given us the opportunity to showcase some of western Pennsylvania’s world-class wilderness.
You can stop almost anywhere along the trail and marvel at the beauty and wildlife you see. At times I allowed my imagination to take a trip of its own. At the Indian God Rock, I imagined the Native Americans canoeing along the river and what their lives might have been like. You see, to me the Garden of Eden is not so much a place, but a way of life. They lived right in the middle of it and so do we, if we only take the time to look.
Though our community is small, the love for our park is pretty big. And because of this, Stahl Park has grown through the years, due to numerous volunteers, local businesses, organizations, and Keystone Fund grants.
So today, 11 years after Erie Bluffs became a state park, I’m reminded often that our efforts were well worth it. We see more and more activity as people find out about the park, and the most common question is “what is DCNR going to do with the park?” My answer is usually “nothing,” and it usually is well-received. It seems most people are fine with no formal trails, signage, or pavilions. They enjoy the natural surroundings and the freedom to explore and take in nature as it should be.
We have often enjoyed Helling Stadium as the site for our Relay for Life event. Its location in the park, with easy access from Route 65, comfortable walking track, and ample parking, helps make our events success. The school district has been most cooperative with our requests and we always do our best to leave the facilities just a little cleaner than they were when we arrived. We even enjoyed the company of NHL pro hockey player Stephen Johns last year for an autograph session!
The Special Kids Zone in Butler County provides a playground for children with special needs, a group that has been underserved for years. The playground was planned by a committee of professionals who work with children with special needs daily. Families and organizations now come from throughout the county and region to use this facility.
The recreational trail is one of the major developments identified in the multi-municipal comprehensive plan that was adopted in 2002 by Foxburg, St. Petersburg, and Richland Townships. The project will not only provide recreation opportunities for local citizens, but also for travelers to the region. Because the trail follows the former railroad right-of-ways, it offers a flat, scenic walking or biking experience for users of all ages.
The Erie Playhouse, the third-oldest community theater in the nation and one of the busiest community theaters in Pennsylvania, has existed for nearly 100 seasons. With Keystone grants through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the playhouse restored the marquee, façade, and outer lobby.
Lawrence County established a greenway and recreation plan, which will facilitate the protection of sensitive conservation areas and enhance recreational opportunities for its residents. The new plan develops a county-wide rural recreation plan for municipalities with little or no access to recreation lands and facilities. It calls for the community to develop a trail system, aid in the preservation and reclamation of natural floodplains to enhance water quality, and protect wildlife habitat and open space.