Judge orders trail access point reopened as dispute continues
SALTSBURG — An Indiana County judge has ordered that an access point on the West Penn Trail near Saltsburg be opened to the public again until a dispute is settled over who owns a small piece of property along the trail.
Judge Thomas Bianco on March 13 issued a preliminary injunction directing that Ronald and Kathryn Rea must remove tape placed across the entrance to the Kiski Section of the trail north of Saltsburg and ordered the Reas to stop blocking the public from using that portion of the hiking and biking path.
Bianco’s order also allows the Reas to have access to the parcel in question.
Jack Maguire, the trail engineer for the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, which manages the network of recreation trails in the area, said the tape was removed soon after the judge’s order and the access point to the West Penn Trail is open again.
According to court documents, the parcel now disputed has been an access point to the trail since 2004, but in November Ronald Rea placed tape across the trail entrance, covered trail signs and moved a camper trailer onto the property.
The Reas and Saltsburg Borough both claim ownership of the small piece of land along the trail.
Maguire said many Saltsburg residents use the trail each day for exercise and they were upset when they discovered last fall that the access was blocked.
The Conemaugh Valley Conservancy has a legal easement with the borough to use the parcel as an access point to the trail, Maguire said.
The CVC started the legal challenge to the Reas’ actions. Another court hearing may be required to legally resolve the issue of ownership of the parcel.
Saltsburg Borough officials previously said the Reas pay taxes on some land near the disputed parcel that was once part of a former canal bed and then was railroad property.
The 17-mile West Penn Trail generally follows the Conemaugh River Valley between Saltsburg and the Westinghouse trailhead near Blairsville.
The trail is a link in the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway.