Trail connecting AOAA to Shamokin is “next revolution" to sustaining tourism dollars

Dave Porzi, director of operations for the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA), left, Shamokin Councilman Dan McGaw, Mayor John Brown, and Councilman Scott Roughton view a map of a proposed trail connecting the AOAA to the city. The trail was discussed during council’s regular meeting on Monday.

SHAMOKIN — The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) is proposing using an existing dirt trail on a hillside west of Shamokin Creek to serve as a portal into the city.

Dave Porzi, director of operations for AOAA, presented to city council at their regular meeting Monday a map of the proposed route, which would start east of the Raspberry Hill Complex and terminate on an improved lot next to the former Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

He said the AOAA’s main concern with the two previous events that brought riders into the city via various streets was “consideration of residents.” Although the events went “very well,” he added that the AOAA wants to establish a more permanent route into the city to sustain “tourism dollars.”

Porzi informed council that the majority of the parcels between the creek and Academy Hill are owned by the City of Shamokin Housing Authority, which operates the complex, Michael Guarna and the City of Shamokin. The Shamokin Cemetery Co. owns “a few feet” of the property where the existing trail is located, Porzi said.

A main obstacle is where the trail comes to a dead end east of the complex. He described the embankment as nearly vertical and consisting of concrete, ash and other debris.

“Currently, that is the blockade that we have found,” Porzi said. “It is probably going to take three or four days of excavation work.”

Porzi noted that the AOAA would do trail work, but only after it obtains permission from the above-mentioned property owners. He indicated he will attend the authority meeting Thursday to discuss the proposed route and has already been in contact with Guarna and William Milbrand, president of the cemetery.

“A majority of it is already there,” he said of the existing trail. “It’s already being used by everyone and their brother. … If we get leases on these properties and get this portal open, then you’re looking at somebody that’s going to clean it up, make it presentable and make people proud that we have this coming into the city.”

He told council that with the state grant money recently awarded for hotels, an off-road trail connecting the AOAA to the city is the “next revolution.”

Porzi was unsure whether the trail would be an option for the next ride into the city, scheduled for Sept. 21. Opening the trail would depend on whether the AOAA gets permission from property owners and good weather to do trail work, he said.

Mayor John Brown suggested Porzi meet with Kevin Richardson, foreman of the city, to discuss parcels owned by the city.

He later explained that maps produced by AOAA and its surveyor show there is a paper street from Lincoln Street to Patsy’s Bridge, which cross Shamokin Creek a block south of the Friendship Fire Co.

In a follow-up interview with The News-Item, Porzi said the city has a right-of-way 30 feet back from Shamokin Creek from around Patsy’s Bridge to Terrance Avenue, where homes were located until the early 1970s.

He said there is also a pinch-point between the creek and ash piles south of the bridge that crosses the creek at the Lawton Shroyer Memorial Pool.

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