River Walk expansion would answer future local needs, priorities

The Susquehanna River Walk is one of the treasures of our area. There is little or no disagreement on that. So why not expand it?

Local leaders met recently with state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials at Susquehanna State Park to discuss the possibility of extending the river walk by 2.4 miles and how to pay for it.

The most exciting part of the planned extension is that it would bring the recreational path even closer to Lycoming College and the Pennsylvania College of Technology. The paved extension is projected to connect the current river walk to Susquehanna State Park through the city and close to both the schools.

Anything that ties our two colleges — one of the region’s strengths — closer to the community should be pursued.

The estimated cost of the extension is $500,000. Part of the money already has been raised through previous state legislation. The rest is subject to intense competition. And the best argument to establish a funding priority may be a futuristic one.

John Norbeck, deputy secretary for parks and forestry at DCNR, pointed out that young people are leaving Pennsylvania over quality-of-life issues. They want walkable communities and trails. Job generators also want that asset. Two of the larger local employers, UPMC Susquehanna and Lycoming Engines, use Williamsport’s connection to the outdoors as a tool to recruit talent. And they use the two colleges as a go-to place to find new employees.

An extension of the river walk would seem like a big piece to improve an existing asset while answering local needs for the future. And that’s the best argument to win a grant competition.

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