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Williamsburg Trail Town

Blair Planning is one agency among several, including the Allegheny Ridge Corporation, the Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation, Explore Altoona, and the municipalities of Williamsburg, Woodbury Township, and Catharine Township looking at marketing the Williamsburg as a Trail Town, modeled after a similar approach along the Great Allegheny Passage. Williamsburg is an excellent candidate as there are eight trails that pass through the community, focused on the Borough itself.

In 2018, members of the local community toured Confluence, a town on the Great Allegheny Passage, to see first-hand what benefits trails bring to a community. This tour was organized by Explore Altoona, and proved successful in interesting the people in Williamsburg in its trails. Since the tour, a grassroots effort has arisen to rebrand and market the town to recognize its unique place as a trail crossroads in central Pennsylvania. The effort, to be explained further as it develops, includes as case study of some trail towns on the Great Allegheny Passage, a survey of trail users, a marketing study, an active transportation plan integrated into an updated joint comprehensive plan, and a rewrite of local development ordinances.

In the Spring Semester of 2020, two Penn State Community Development students, James Graef and Grant Phillips, undertook a case study of the trail town effort along the Great Allegheny Passage with a specific eye toward applying lessons learned to the efforts in Williamsburg.

The resulting report, at left, details a number of improvements to be made in the borough to encourage further development of the trail town identity, thereby bolstering the economic fortune of the town itself. The report culminates with an action matrix of suggested projects in town to implement the plan and move the community toward its stated trail town goals.

This report will weigh heavily on the active lifestyles portion of the new comprehensive plan being spearheaded by Blair Planning in conjunction with the three local municipalities.

Two other students in the same Spring 2020 class, Elijah Kelsey and Josh Ruffing, conducted research on trail users and the visitor experience in Williamsburg. The COVID-19 situation hampered their efforts somewhat, but they did offer the following report to consider: Williamsburg "Lower Trail" Final Report.

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