The first public meeting in Plum on a $20 million trail connecting the borough with Penn Hills, Oakmont and Verona will be held in April.

Plans for the VOPP Trail — short for Verona, Oakmont, Penn Hills and Plum — will be discussed during the gathering from 6 to 8 p.m. April 11 at Plum’s municipal center on Old Mine Road, which, as of April 1, will become Mike Thomas Way in honor of Plum’s former manager.

The last such meeting was held in July in Penn Hills.

“It’s an opportunity for the public to express their concerns or excitement,” said Chris Blackwell, planning director for Penn Hills. “It’s an opportunity for us to learn from residents what their needs are.”

The 13-mile biking and walking trail would run from Steel City Rowing on Arch Street in Verona to Boyce Park in Plum. It would span 2 miles in Verona, 4 miles in Oakmont, 1 mile in Penn Hills and 6 miles in Plum.

The trail’s route from Verona to Plum’s municipal center is set, Blackwell said.

It would follow public streets in Verona and Oakmont to Creekside Park in Oakmont, where it goes off-road onto abandoned railroad rights of way to Plum’s municipal center.

Getting the trail the final 4 miles from the municipal center to Boyce Park is where it gets murky, Plum Manager David Soboslay said.

That’s because, Blackwell said, there are no more rights of way to follow. There are two or three potential routes, he said.

While having it off-road is ideal, that would take it onto private property, Blackwell said.

Taking property through eminent domain is not being considered, Soboslay said.

“We’re trying to work with everybody along the way,” Blackwell said. “We’re not trying to jam it down anyone’s throat. We’re bringing recreation to your doorstep.”

The trail would pass by Plum’s old borough building on New Texas Road, which the borough is preparing to tear down. Officials hope the presence of the trail will help spur commercial development there, since trail users would patronize businesses, Soboslay said.

A $1.2 million county grant is paying for the engineering and design of the entire trail. Work is focusing on Plum as that comes to a close by the end of the year, Blackwell said.

There is not yet money to build the entire trail. Grants will be sought, and it could take 20 years, Blackwell said.

A half-mile section of the trail near Creekside Park in Oakmont is open. Construction on the mile in Penn Hills will start in 2025, Blackwell said.

A significant portion of the trail, from Verona though Oakmont and Penn Hills to Plum, should be done in about five years, he said.

“There’s a lot of interest in this now,” Blackwell said. “I think this will be completed.”

Public meetings also will be held in Verona and Oakmont, but they have not been scheduled.

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

Coming up
Who: Friends of the RiverfrontWhat: Public meeting on the VOPP Trail
When: 6 to 8 p.m. April 11
Where: Plum Borough Municipal Center, 2000 Mike Thomas Way (formerly Old Mine Road)