Sidewalk project is underway


Matt Churella

After the sidewalk and bike path connect project is completed, students are to be able to safely walk from campus to the Richland Town Centre.

Matt Churella, News Editor

University administrators received a $500,000 state grant to pursue a project that would connect campus to the Richland Township community, according to a Feb. 14 campuswide email from Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar.

According to Spectar’s email, the project is to eventually include a paved bike path and sidewalk connecting Pitt-Johnstown’s campus with Penn Highlands Community College, the College Park Apartments, Richland School District, the Highland Community Library, the Richland Township Municipal Building and the Richland Town Centre.

Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky said the project would be great for Richland Town Centre business owners, Pitt-Johnstown students and Richland Township community members.

“It connects the community,” Chernisky said.

Chernisky said the project would connect approximately 8,000 people.

Chernisky said he first discussed the project’s details with Spectar three years ago at Point Stadium in Johnstown.

Chernisky said students already walk back and forth from Pitt-Johnstown to the Richland Town Centre, and that the project would make their walk much safer.

Senior Kyle Zenchak said he walks from the College Park Apartments to Pitt-Johnstown’s campus a lot.

He said a sidewalk would be a nice addition to the community, but that it would not necessarily be needed for students to walk to Richland Town Centre.

However, Zenchak said he would use the sidewalk to do just that.

“I’ve walked down to Walmart a lot just to get some stuff,” Zenchak said.

Chernisky said after the project has been completed, Richland Township community members would be able to park their vehicles at the Richland Town Centre and walk to Pitt-Johnstown’s campus and use its trails.

Chernisky said the completed project could make for a great recruiting tool for Pitt-Johnstown’s Admissions administrators.

Chernisky said the project is set to begin before the year’s end.

“The objective is to start everything in July. But time will tell,” Chernisky said.

Chernisky said he thinks the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s grant writers gave Pitt-Johnstown administrators a $500,000 grant because they thought it was a win for everybody involved in the project.

“I don’t exactly know why. I think it was because they thought it was a win for Richland Township, (Pitt-Johnstown), the Richland School District and also the Cambria County community,” Chernisky said.

Spectar said when he first met with Chernisky, the project seemed unreachable. Chernisky said the project has people involved in it who are working together with the same objective—to get things done.

“A lot of times, when you start, everything seems unreachable. With positive people working to get things going, that’s how you make things reachable,” Chernisky said.

Richland School District Superintendent Arnold Nadonley said he thinks the project is going to be a great asset to the community.

“Anytime you invest in infrastructure, that increases the quality of life,” Nadonley said.

Nadonley said the sidewalk could serve as an additional recreational venue to improve healthy lifestyles for Richland School District students and staff.

“This can also be used as an alternative for recess or physical education classes when the lawns or playgrounds are too wet for use,” Nadonley said.

Nadonley said students are not permitted to leave Richland School District facilities unless they are going directly home or with a parent.

He also said Richland Township community members already walk across the district’s properties.

“We are vigilant if they start to approach areas where students are located,” Nadonley said.

Nadonley said the district has a school resource officer who monitors community members’ activities.

“In the case of the sidewalks, they will be located on our borders and will provide a better walking surface as opposed to going across the grass or fields.

“The sidewalks are far enough away from the facilities or where students are located and should minimize risks,” Nadonley said.

Spectar said he envisions that, with additional support, Theater Drive businesses and residents could be connected to campus.

He said he also envisions the trail being extended through the Johnstown Industrial Park to the Johnstown Galleria Mall.