Parker to be designated a Trail Town along the National Country Scenic Trail
Parker may be a city, but after Saturday, it will be designated as a Trail Town along the national North Country Scenic Trail.
The North Country Trail Association, a national organization aiming to promote the 4,600-mile long trail designated as a National Trail, is naming the tiny city as its third Trail Town in Pennsylvania.
“This designation acknowledges that our trail volunteers and the entire community are collaborating to promote the services available in Parker for trail users,” said Bruce Matthews, executive director of the North Country Trail Association. “It’s a way to recognize a community for coming together with trail volunteers to promote the region and hopefully boost its economy.”
Pennsylvania’s other trail towns are Wampum in Lawrence County, and Darlington in Beaver County.
The Butler Chapter of the North Country Trail Association worked with city officials to establish the designating. It requires city officials to post North Country Trail Association signs, which acknowledge the trail’s path through Parker, Matthews said.
The chapter plans to mark the designation with tours of the North Country Scenic Trail in Parker and refreshments at 10 a.m., Saturday.
In Parker, the trail comes into town along North Jackson Street, before turning onto Washington Street, where it winds along the Allegheny River, before crossing the Route 368 bridge into Clarion County.
Promotes local businesses
The designation gives the city an opportunity to promote businesses that may be useful to people using the trail, such as restaurants, lodging or places to purchase supplies, he added.
“This designation is a good way to recognize the relationship between the trail and community,” Matthews said.
Council Vice President DuWayne Amsler said the designation will help officials put an emphasis on recreation as officials attempt to encourage the city’s redevelopment.
“Parker is going through a slow evolution from being an industrial town into more of a scenic, laid back area with lots of recreation opportunities,” Amsler said. “The trail and its new designation are going to help bring people in who might not have seen us otherwise.”
Part of ongoing effort
Since last October, Parker has been taking steps to encourage development in the small city.
In October, it was designated as a Blueprint Community, which provided community leaders with training on economic planning and programming through the nonprofit Pennsylvania Downtown Center in Harrisburg.
The next month, the city became a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Act, or LERTA, community. It allows Parker to offer 10-year tax breaks for home improvements and 20 years of relief for work done on businesses.
“We’re hoping these things, along with the Trail Town designation, will help benefit everyone,” Amsler said. “The restaurants and businesses we already have in town will benefit from this, and hopefully we’ll see others come in because of our assets, like the river, trail and beautiful scenery.”
The North Country Scenic Trail runs through seven states, starting in North Dakota and ending at the New York state border. The association teams with the federal National Parks Service to maintain the trail, which is one of 11 trails in the country recognized as National Trails.
“We rely on volunteers and local chapters to work on the trail, sometimes on a daily basis, to maintain the trail,” Matthews said.
Kevin Andrews, director of the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau, said the designation will put a spotlight on the town, which is currently going through several revitalization efforts.
Andrews applauded officials for becoming a Trail Town because, along with the Blueprint Community and LERTA designations, it should bring not only tourists, but perspective business owners.
“Everything they are doing is about creating an environment that encourages people to come into town for a variety of reasons,” Andrews said. “I see this as another piece of the puzzle to really help the city grow and prosper.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or [email protected].