New chapter for trail as volunteers tidy up across downtown Johnstown

May 21—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Members of a clean-up crew on Sunday were busy tidying up the Johnstown Greenway Trail that runs along Iron Street in downtown Johnstown.

The effort also signaled a new chapter for the riverside trail as workers were creating a StoryWalk — a move to replicate a similar attraction installed last fall at the top of Stackhouse Park.

Posts were added on Sunday that will support a series of storyboards, each of which will be built to feature two pages of a children's book — and young readers will be encouraged to travel along the path and work their ways through the stories, which will be changed regularly, said Stackhouse Park board member and program manager Lauren Lazzari.

The StoryWalk is part of a broader effort to encourage children to embrace outdoor exploration, wellness and literacy, Lazzari said. She credited a collaboration between Stackhouse Park volunteers, the Cambria County Library and a list of partners for driving the project forward.

"We're hoping it leads to school field trips and other ways to encourage the community to use the trail," Lazzari said.

Project partners are hopeful that the StoryWalk will also encourage families to use the Johnstown Greenway Trail to make other cultural connections.

The paved path comprises the majority of an "easy, walkable" one-mile corridor that connects the Cambria County Library, 248 Main St., downtown Johnstown, to Cambria City destinations such as Bottle Works and the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, said Leah Johncola, Cambria County Library children's services coordinator.

She said the project fits the library's goal of expanding its reach outside its walls.

The Johnstown Area Heritage Association partnered with the group to allow the storyboards to be added on its property, part of which includes the Johnstown Greenway Trail. Richland Township-based Martin-Baker America donated labor and supplies to repair a fence that borders the trail, Johncola said.

Westmont Hilltop High School students from teacher Logan Seybold's public service class were scheduled to finish installing the metal storyboards on Monday, Lazzari said.

The latest StoryWalk project was funded through a state Office of Commonwealth Libraries grant. Beginnings Inc. also was providing support.

Lazzari said the hope is to have a ribbon-cutting for the trail on June 9.

Cleaning and beautification work on the Johnstown Greenway Trail was just one piece of Sunday's clean-up effort across the city's central business district. From Bedford Street to Point Stadium, more than 100 volunteers were sweeping, weeding, mulching and planting springtime flowers.

It marked the Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership's 16th annual "Beautification Day."

The event is held annually just before the summer festival season kicks off, and the downtown-minded nonprofit was assisted by Visit Johnstown, Vision Together 2025, the Cambria Regional Chamber, the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Wessel & Co., The EADS Group, 1st Summit Bank and fellow community volunteers.

"We see new faces every year," the Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership's Mark Lazzari said as a truckload of mulch was being unloaded in Central Park behind him.

Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic noted that the project was just one of a number of neighborhood-driven beautification efforts that have been underway in recent weeks — "grassroots" efforts in Moxham, Kernville and the West End included. Neighbors and business owners did the same on Saturday in Hornerstown.

"The credit goes to the neighborhoods — the residents of Johnstown," Janakovic said. "We're seeing people stepping up to get involved all over the place."