South Fork historical group slates upgrades: Falcon Field trails, museum updates, outdoor rec area

Mar. 18—SOUTH FORK, Pa. — While it continues to upgrade its 427 Maple Ave. museum, the South Fork Historical Society has adopted a mission to improve the whole South Fork community and attract more visitors.

The latest effort focuses on bringing trails to the Falcon Field complex, home to athletic fields remaining from the former South Fork High School.

"We are looking for different ways to bring outdoor activities up there because there is a lot of land up there," society President Mark Kohart said. "It's getting nicer and nicer there since we've been working."

The first 1.5-mile trail would be a relatively level pathway around the existing ball fields and other features. Volunteers from the South Fork Lions Club and a nearby Boy Scout troop expect to begin the work this spring and have the trail ready by South Fork Heritage Days in June, Kohart said.

The second trail will take more work. It is roughly designed as a downhill mountain bike trail, similar to the trails on the hillside below the Inclined Plane in Johnstown.

Riders will begin at Falcon Field and end up on Maple Avenue in South Fork.

That route will include several switchbacks that are currently under design by Mike Cook, who also laid out the Inclined Plane trail system.

"We've had several meetings," Kohart said. "When the weather gets a little nicer, we'll be able to do more. We'll put out a call closer to when it happens."

Society leaders have gotten permission from both South Fork Borough Council and the Croyle Township supervisors to design the trails and apply for grant funding to develop them.

The next step — and the next grant application — would add three more pavilions with electric and water service to the complex, also known as the South Fork Croyle Township Park.

Four pickleball courts and a resurfaced basketball court would be constructed with funding from a third grant, if approved, and a fourth grant could transform Founders Park in the South Fork business district to honor veterans of all wars and provide more benches and areas to relax.

Another grant application is in the works to create an outdoor recreation center on the lot beside the museum. Kohart said the location would dovetail with the society's summer reading feeding program, held in cooperation with the South Fork Public Library and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Last year, the project distributed two-meal packets to about 75 children on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the summer, but the museum was not able to provide a place for the kids to eat. An outdoor recreation area would include benches and tables.

All of those community-wide projects are in the works alongside the historical society's main focus of upgrading the museum, Kohart said.

The group is looking for additional grant funding to install an elevator and open the second floor as a lounge and meeting area.

Municipal grant applications have named South Fork Borough as the applicant, which makes the borough council responsible for passing the money through to the society.

Council President Amy Hionis said the council welcomes the society's help.

"The borough has been very supportive," Hionis said. "We are trying to get more people in our town now. There will be more things to do around here. I know a lot of people enjoy our trails, so that's going to be a great asset."