The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 10, 2013

County seeks to expand parking at senior center

Justin Dennis

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — The Senior Activities Center of Cambria County has been active in the Northern Cambria community for years, but the county commissioners said they don’t think seniors struggling to gain access to the facility should be part of the “activities.”

Specifically, they said they’ve taken notice of the lack of adequate parking around the center, citing dangers to its members, especially during icy winters such as the one experienced this year.

“Parking is a challenge there,” Commissioner Tom Chernisky said. “It’s not good walking, it’s not good for any of the seniors to walk, and it’s not good for any of the non-seniors to walk.

“Every time I stop at that center, they always say, ‘Hey, commissioner! What are you doing about parking?’ ” he said.

But it’s an issue Chernisky said those in the county courthouse have been mulling since last summer.

Chernisky seemed to think the urgency is greater than the action implies.

“It needs parking as of yesterday,” he quipped.

Enter John Dubnansky, grant facilitator for Cambria County, who’s been sniffing out funding sources from corporate foundations.

Two grant applications have been sent thus far, and Dubnansky said a rough estimate for the work needed comes to around $40,000.

The additional lot, at 100 square feet, will add 30 parking spaces that will be connected to the always-packed main lot.

The commissioners said they hope to have the project finished this fall, although spring 2014 is another window they might have to shoot for.

“What we don’t want to do is start a project and then find out that we don’t have the grant money,” Chernisky said.

Dubnansky also stressed the importance of cutting costs to the community by using free state funds over county funds.

“Grant opportunities open up every day,” he said. “So I have to take a look at them and see which one fits for the community.”

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