Dan Sigg is excited about the possibility of a biking and walking trail running through Plum and three neighboring communities.

“Trails are good for our region. They’re good for our community,” said Sigg of Plum. “Once you have it, you realize what a community asset it is.”

Sigg was among residents from Plum and beyond who filled the council meeting room at the Plum municipal center Thursday evening to hear details about the proposed “VOPP Trail,” a 13-mile, $20 million trail from Verona through Oakmont, Penn Hills and Plum.

It was the first such meeting on the trail to be held in Plum. An initial meeting was held in July in Penn Hills. A third meeting is scheduled in the fall, and a fourth will be held in the spring of 2025.

About half of the trail’s design is complete, said Chris Blackwell, planning director for Penn Hills.

In touting the potential benefits of a trail, Courtney Mahronich Vita, director of trail development and government relations for Friends of the Riverfront, used the Three Rivers Heritage Trail as an example. That included findings that it had 1.3 million visits in 2023 with a total economic impact of $26.5 million, with $16 million in earnings for local workers and $5.7 million in tax revenue generated.

The VOPP Trail would connect parks in the four communities to each other. Recreation, Blackwell said, is a huge asset, with trails being the No. 1 asset that can be built.

“It brings recreation to your doorstep,” he said.

Sandy Aubele’s home in the Milltown area of Plum, near the Penn Hills border, would be near the trail. She’s in favor of the trail and is hopeful a historical marker can be placed on the trail where a farm once stood.

“I think it will be a good idea, as long as it gets watched over,” she said, adding she would walk it while her children would ride their bikes. “I don’t see any problems with it. I think it’s interesting.”

Darrell Paul, whose son is on a Plum School District mountain bike team, said the trail would be nice for families.

“My family likes to go on the trail and have an easy path to follow,” he said. “It’s something the whole family can do.”

His son, Devan, 14, agreed, saying he would like to have a trail closer to home that he would not need his parents to drive him to.

“I would love this,” he said. “This looks really cool. I think many people would enjoy it.”

Not all residents were supportive of the trail. A man who did want to provide his name said he and others in Plum’s Briarwood neighborhood would never want or allow the trail near their homes.

A map showed a route that would take the trail off-road from Plum’s municipal center to Boyce Park, including past Briarwood; otherwise, it would have to be on roads.

“It’s not going through my backyard,” he said. “I don’t want people going through my backyard on a bike trail. I like my privacy.”

While getting the trail the final leg from Plum’s municipal center to Boyce Park is “murky” because there is no abandoned railroad right of way to use, Blackwell said there is no intent to use eminent domain to take property for the trail.

“That’s not how we want to do this,” he said. “This is not the Mon-Fayette Expressway.”

The goal is for the trail to be fully complete by 2035.

Frank Lotito of Plum said he’s new to biking. He prefers getting bicycles off roads so they are not competing with road traffic, especially over the coming years as there is more development in the area and traffic increases.

“I probably won’t live to see it, but hopefully my progeny will, and I want it to be safe,” he said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a TribLive reporter covering news in New Kensington, Arnold and Plum. A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Penn State University's Schreyer Honors College, Brian has been with the Trib since December 2000. He can be reached at brittmeyer@triblive.com.