"It could be done in the near future," Ron Steffey told Titusville City Council Monday night during a trail update presentation. The proposed plan, created by Steffey Trail Connections on behalf of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance, would build a trail from Garden Street to Kerr Mill Road by way of the O'Rourke Field area.
"There is starting to be a lot more excitement for the East Branch Trail and connection from Hydetown to Spartansburg and from Spartansburg to Corry," Steffey said.
He also pointed toward plans to expand the trail system owned by the Oil Creek State Park.
"That kind of leaves from Titusville to Hydetown and in Titusville as the connections we need to make," he said.
"It is going to take an agreement with the railroad," Steffey said Monday night.
The city's role would be to continue participating in those conversations and serve as a manager or owner of the future trail as needed. This will help secure use of the land from the railroad and money from grants and other sources. It will also make it easier to recruit and engage volunteers for the project, according to Steffey.
"Let's show the different funders that we're doing something," he said.
Tackling the "simpler" section between Titusville and Hydetown may also provide the momentum needed to solve the overall issue of creating the full connection, which is something people continue to wonder about. "How are you going to get from there (Hydetown) to Titusville?" councilman William McCrillis asked.
Steffey gave no definitive answer. The presentation he provided council prior to the meeting suggested that once the O'Rourke Field Connection is complete, the remainder of the distance between the city and the borough would be done as "two smaller and more manageable projects" - Kerr Mill Road to Hydetown and Garden Street to the Queen City Trail across town.
"The success of one project will elevate the other, but the obstacles in one project will not slow down the other project," the presentation said.
This could also address the need to connect the trail to the downtown businesses, pubs and other amenities, according to Mayor Jon Crouch. He was joined by the other council members in giving verbal support to the proposal.
Steffey said he plans to talk with Oil Creek Township officials in January and hopes to return to the Titusville council with another update that month as well.
"It is going to take a lot of cooperation to get up to Hydetown," Steffey said.