County and local officials are hoping that a new proposed trail project will work to bridge several West Shore municipalities for easy pedestrian and cyclist access throughout the eastern half of Cumberland County.

On Wednesday night, Silver Spring Township supervisors voted to support a Regional Connections Grant offered through the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

The grant - totaling either $16,000 or $20,000 - would provide funding to support the development of regional plans and projects that link land use and transportation.

Together, participating municipalities would be required to match 20 percent of the grant in cash - amounting to an estimated cost range of roughly $500-$1250 each, depending on the number of participants.

According to Jeff Williams, director of Parks and Recreation for Silver Spring Township, the township was first approached by Lower Allen Township a few months ago regarding the initiative.

Lower Allen has agreed to be the lead applicant on the Regional Connections Grant.

"The way it was described by the Lower Allen engineer, it will reflect existing trailways and proposed trailways," Williams said of the trail maps, which would be distributed to residents of participating townships. "Our plan will show where we can connect to other trails."

Participation commitment

On May 10, officials from Camp Hill borough and East Pennsboro, Hampden, Lower Allen, Upper Allen and Silver Spring townships met to discuss details of the plan.

In an email to participating municipalities on May 23, Cumberland County Greenway and Open Space Coordinator Stephanie Williams explained the timeliness of the initiative.

"There is increasing demand by the public to have a connected system of trails and sidewalks that connect residents with destinations (like) parks, housing, shopping, schools, work," she wrote. "Over the past several years, municipalities in the region have met to look at regional trail connections. There appears to be interest in connecting trails, but to date the effort hasn't gone beyond initial planning stages."

"The proposed project," she added, "would involve engaging a consultant to jump start and lead the development of a regional trail plan."

Among the other municipalities represented at the meeting, Williams noted, Hampden Township was believed to be in support of the plan, in addition to project spearhead Lower Allen.

"I think it's money well spent," Silver Spring Township Supervisor Nate Spade said Wednesday.

The rest of the board agreed, voting unanimously to lend their support and participation to the trailways plan.

From here, Silver Spring and other participating municipalities will be required to provide a letter of commitment to Lower Allen Township, outlining their desire to participate in the study and contribute to the local grant match. Grant applications are due to Tri-County by July 15.

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