On Sept. 24, the Greene County Department of Planning and Community Development and Department of Recreation received $200,000 in grant money that was applied for in April of this year.
According to a news release from Greene County’s website, “the county was awarded a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Grant to work on the construction of an access drive, parking area, pedestrian walkways, softball fields and stormwater management measures, etc.,” at the Wisecarver Reservoir area a few miles from Waynesburg in Franklin Township.
According to Greene County Commissioner Mike Belding, mostly due to funding restrictions, the entire project will not be completed simultaneously.
“As additional funding becomes available, the project will include the softball fields, installation of bleachers, kayak and canoe launch, landscaping and other related site improvements,” Belding said.
Although the construction portion of the project hasn’t begun in the reservoir and park area yet, they are currently planning and scouring for acquisition of more grants for this process.
“I would estimate a two to three-year completion cycle once we begin,” Belding said. “It’s a large project and using a phased approach due to funding will stretch out the completion date over several years.”
The project has been going on with planning since 2016. Greene County had previously received $200,000 for the project, according to Belding, and now an additional $200,000. The total projected cost of fully developing all the amenities in the Wisecarver project is estimated at $2.5 million.
Belding said the major concern and obstacle will be continued funding sources. He explained that the success rate of securing additional funding increases as projects progress and that each grant requires either matching funds or in-kind contributions.
“We are currently seeking business and industry partners that may contribute time, equipment and labor toward the project requiring smaller financial contributions from the county,” Belding said.
Most recently, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced a round of Boating Facility Grants to help communities capitalize on the surge in new boating activity, Belding explained.
“Successful applicants must agree to provide a 50% grant match and be willing to enter into a long-term agreement to keep the facility open to free public use,” Belding said. “A kayak and canoe launch and recovery site is one of the amenities considered for installation at the Wisecarver Reservoir.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in outdoor activities. Belding says the project at Wisecarver has been a top priority for several years, and this has spurred staff to develop increased attractions in Greene County.
“It has the potential to give Greene County residents a large, outdoor recreational area: Fishing, kayaking, hiking and softball are all cherished pastimes and we would like to offer them to our residents and visitors alike with new facilities close to town,” Belding said. “Many who have grown up here have childhood memories of outdoor recreational activities with family and friends and Wisecarver will add to these opportunities for the next generations.”