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November 10, 2007

Residents angry over trail extension

Angie Williams of Riverside has vivid memories of an encounter with a mental patient on the James Mayer Riverswalk Trail just outside the village.

“He was waiting for me,” Williams said of the man, who was put on probation for an indecent exposure conviction.

When she and her husband, Tim, learned that a trail extension to Greenhouse Park would come virtually through their Liberty Avenue home’s side yard, the couple joined the trail’s opposition.

“It’s opening up our neck of the woods to anybody who wants to come through,” Williams said.

The Williams’ neighbors, John and Lori Yarnevic, helped lead a petition drive, gathering at least 130 signatures of neighbors opposed to the trail extension. They will present the petition at Tuesday’s Stonycreek Township commissioners meeting, set to begin at 7 p.m.

“We do not want all this traffic running through our village here in Riverside,” Lori Williams said. The couple also cited problems on the 1.2-mile Mayer Riverswalk, which connects Riverside to Johnstown’s Moxham section.

Joe Brett of Riverside enjoys using recreational trails and supports the idea of a trail to Greenhouse Park that would eventually extend to Windber.

“I sure do,” Brett said. “I guess I am in the minority in this community.”

Most of those attending an Oct. 23 informational meeting seemed to oppose the planned extension, township Commissioner Robert Orris of Riverside said.

Orris said he called for the meeting after commissioners learned of the plan to designate existing streets and alleys through Riverside to bring bicyclists and hikers to a new trail section beginning at the northwest end of Liberty Avenue.

The new trail is proposed by the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy’s Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative in connection with its Stonycreek River Whitewater Park and Quemahoning Whitewater Release projects.

“We heard at that (Oct. 23) meeting: ‘We’re against it,’” Orris said. “It’s our job to do what the people want, so we’ll have to go from there.”

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