County funds sought for boat ramp

LEWISTOWN – If the necessary funding is secured, residents of Mifflin County could have a new boat launching ramp to enjoy in the near future.

Bill Gomes, Mifflin County planning director, was on hand at Thursday’s workshop meeting of the Mifflin County Commissioners to request the county’s help in securing funding for a new boat ramp to be built on the Juniata River in Bratton Township near Mattawana and McVeytown.

“There is a program that we believe can help us with this project, which we’ve been working on for about a year now,” Gomes said. “This concept started with the Mifflin County Parks and Recreation Council and evolved from the county’s open space plan. It was determined that we don’t have a good boat access to the river between Granville and Newton Hamilton. We believe this would be a good thing for recreational boaters and rescue groups, as well.”

Gomes said there is grant money available from the Chesapeake Bay Gateway Program and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and he plans to apply for funding from those organizations.

Gomes added that if he is successful in obtaining funding, the county would be required to match any grant funds used, which he estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000 for the county’s share. He said he will request the money from the county’s allocation from the Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund to help pay for survey work, developing an easement for the property and other preliminary work that will be needed for the applications pending commissioners’ approval.

“It would basically be used as seed money to help us get off the ground,” Gomes said of the county match, which he will request formally at the commissioners’ Feb. 21 business meeting.

Gomes said the proposed site is located along River Road, approximately a half-mile from the pair of bridges that cross the Juniata River between McVeytown and Mattawana.

“We are in negotiations with the property owner right now for easements at the property,” Gomes said. “The site provides for parking and we believe is a safer site. We think it’s a real plus for the community if we can make this work.”

When asked by Commissioner Mark Sunderland who would be responsible for maintaining the ramp, Gomes said that discussions are ongoing with McVeytown borough and Bratton and Oliver townships on providing maintenance.

In other business Thursday, Sunderland announced the following agenda items for the commissioners’ Feb. 21 business meeting:

A purchase of service agreement for use, if needed, by Children & Youth, with Outside In School of Experiential Education Inc. of Greensburg.

The hiring of South Hills Intern Donavan Truax for the Crime Victim Service Office effective March 19.