A new community park in Johnstown will take people out of the hustle-and-bustle of the city and bring them right up to the river’s edge.
Vision 2025 is currently designing the city’s first-ever riverside public park. It will be located to the left of the Inclined Plane on the other side of the Stonycreek River; across the river from downtown.
“For as much as the river connects this community and runs through this community, the riverfront is not accessible to the people of Johnstown,” said Vision 2025 Consultant Ryan Kieta.
That spot already has easy access to the river and is a popular destination for tourists.
Now, Vision 2025 wants ideas to design the park.
“Fishing, hiking, people-watching, whatever. We’re going to take all those ideas and develop a design for the space,” Kieta said.
Picnic tables, fishing piers or mountain biking trails are all possibilities.
Josh Knipple, a Johnstown resident, would like to see a playground or hiking trails.
“Swings, hammocks, areas to sit and relax,” Knipple added.
Bob Whaley suggested horse-back riding trails, or white water rafting.
“Hiking trails, even something in winter time. Maybe like cross-mountain ski,” Whaley said.
Water access is important to Arlene Johns, an avid kayaker.
“I’d love to see a way to be able to use the river a little bit more,” said Johns, adding that a public swimming pool would be a fun amenity.
A $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies will cover the design cost and pay to install a handicap-accessible ramp down to the park.
Once Kieta and the other urban planners finalize the design, they can apply for grants to build the park.
“Economic development in Johnstown and Cambria County means more than just jobs and more than just getting new industries and businesses here. Economic development’s about quality of life,” Kieta said.
Vision 2025 is holding a workshop to get ideas from locals because a public park needs the public’s input.
“We don’t want to disappear into a closet and design this thing. We want a robust community visioning process so that the park serves the community,” Kieta said.
“I see great things happening down the road,” said Johns.
“This place has hope. It has potential. Let’s see it. Let’s see it come to reality,” Knipple said.
The workshop will take place on Thursday, May 10th, at 5 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College Central Park Center located on the corner of Main Street and Gazebo Park in Johnstown.
It’s free and open to the public.