News

Nature park and trail coming to West Manchester Township

Written by John Buffone/The York Daily Record | Oct 12, 2018 11:11 AM
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A woman walks her dog on an existing walking trail between Normandie Ridge and the woods that will become the senior walking trail in West Manchester Township. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

A park unlike any other in York County is coming to West Manchester Township.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the York County Community Foundation's Embracing Aging program, the West Manchester Senior Trail and Nature Park took a big step toward reality.

"Embracing Aging is especially excited about this project because it aligns with our outcomes of creating more age-friendly physical spaces and increasing access and/or ease of mobility for older persons," said Cathy Bollinger, managing director of Embracing Aging.

The new trail is aimed at accessibility for seniors, but it will be available to the public. Its purpose is to provide a calm, relaxing experience, giving an alternative to other parks that have a high-energy atmosphere.

"We don't expect there to be ultimate Frisbee out there. We just want a serene park, and we don't really want bikes or scooters out there either," Normandie Ridge Retirement Community VP of Fund Development Fran Ashby said.

The trail will provide two entrances, one on the Normandie Ridge Side and one on the West Gate Apartments side, both accessible for emergency response vehicles.

"The big feature of this park is that we're going to have a half mile of 8-foot wide trails," Ashby said. "Many of the trails in York County aren't accessible to people with wheelchairs, walkers and other devices because the trail is either not wide enough or not smooth enough."

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The current Westgate Park borders the planned senior walking trail in West Manchester Township. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

Could connect to hospital walking trail

Though this is a West Manchester project, it is being facilitated by Normandie Ridge. The location of the park will be on the west side of the retirement community's campus near the site of the new hospital and could eventually connect to the UPMC Pinnacle Memorial Hospital walking trails. The popular walking trails at the hospital site (formerly the Hawk Lake golf course) have been closed during construction of the new facility.

"We first planned on looking at attractive land on the Normandie Ridge property, which was about two acres," Ashby said. "Adjacent to our land is another two acres owned by the township, and when we presented our concept, you could see the excitement in their eyes because they see the need for this."

"If we eventually connect the two trails, it's going to benefit the whole community," said Ron Thayer, Community Relations coordinator for Normandie Ridge. "It's a connector that takes people from the open area into this new nature preserve. It's also very accessible from Kenneth Road, so it'll be a short walk from the bus stop."

All parties involved hope the new trail will provide a bridge between younger and older citizens in the York Community.

"It's absolutely open to everyone. We did a focus group with residents, and some were concerned about safety, cleanliness and some just wanted peaceful environment," Ashby said. "We want families to come out with their children and enjoy something they can't really get at other parks."

"This began as an idea for our community at Normandie Ridge, but the more we talked to people, we soon realized that this should be something for the whole York community," said Thayer. "We couldn't have done this without the help from West Manchester Township."

The project is still in the fundraising stage and has half of what's needed through committed donations.   

Currently, the plan is to begin trailblazing this winter and organizers hope to have the trail/park open by the fall of 2019.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record. 

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