The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) is a volunteer-led organization, committed to providing the best possible outdoor recreational facilities and opportunities for the people of Montour County and the surrounding region. We live and work here and are dedicated to creating a great place to live, work, play, learn, and raise a family.
MARC grew out of the Montour County Recreation Authority (MCRA). The MCRA was originally created as a funding mechanism for the Danville Area Community Center more than thirty years ago. Long after that original purpose was accomplished, it was re-formed to pursue ideas and funding to improve recreation facilities and programs in Montour County and the Danville Area School District.
In 2002, a change in organizational structure was proposed to move the responsibility for recreation from an appointed authority to a commission which would be composed of representatives of every participating municipality. These recommendations followed statewide trends in recreation and, more importantly, recreation funding. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) had moved toward a system of rewarding regional partnerships with grant opportunities.
In 2003, MCRA assembled a team of volunteers to travel around the state to observe other communities to learn how they ran their organizations. DCNR provided a list of successful, sustained programs that were similar in size to our region. The team found the common threads among successful organizations were partnerships and wide-based community support.
MCRA representatives returned to Montour County to explore options that might be acceptable to local elected leaders and residents. Numerous proposals were presented, including various methods of funding a recreation commission. It eventually became clear that the exact structure of a commission – its funding, scope of responsibilities, structure, etc. – would have to be decided by representatives of whichever entities voluntarily chose to participate in the organization; no municipalities would be forced to participate. A large group meeting was held in March 2004, followed by numerous small group discussions. Some municipalities decided to join with MCRA in the creation of a recreation commission; others took more of a ‘wait and see’ approach.
The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) formally began to operate upon the signing of an Intergovernmental Agreement of Cooperation by Montour County, Washingtonville Borough, Riverside Borough, and the Danville Area School District on May 18, 2005. The Borough of Danville joined MARC on January 10, 2012 and Mahoning Township joined on May 13, 2020. MARC is structured as a ‘multi-governmental organization which is non-profit by intent’. MARC is incorporated in Pennsylvania under 15 Pa C.S., Section 5306, as a Domestic Nonprofit Corporation; MARC is not a 501(c)(3) entity.
Dave Decoteau served as MARC’s first Director, serving from MARC’s founding in 2005 until October 2010. Dave then stepped down to open the Riverside Adventure Company in Riverside, PA, though he continues to remain actively involved in MARC’s operations as a park/trail stewardship volunteer. Bob Stoudt, formerly MARC’s Deputy Director, was promoted to Director in October 2010 and continues to serve in that capacity today.
MARC’s mission is ‘to make and promote Montour County, PA as a healthy place to live, work and play’. MARC’s stated goals are to:
1. (BUILD AND MAINTAIN) Improve the quality and quantity of outdoor recreational opportunities in and around Montour County, PA
2. (PARTNER) Collaborate with volunteers and public and private partners to create, maintain and promote an interconnected network of trails, parks, natural areas and other green spaces
3. (PROMOTE) Promote the economic, natural and cultural resources of our community
4. (FUND) Create an endowed funding source for the long-term operations of the Montour Area Recreation Commission and the stewardship of Montour County’s outdoor recreational resources
5. (ASSIST) Serve as a clearinghouse for information, technical and planning assistance related to outdoor recreation in and around Montour County
MARC has seven part-time employees, overseen by an unpaid Commission of elected municipal and county officials and volunteers.
Since 2020, MARC has received the majority of its funding from the Montour County Hotel Tax, administered by the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau, with other funding from Geisinger, grant programs, donations, and through revenue generated by MARC’s operations.
RECENT MARC PROJECTS
MARC is currently directing or has recently completed the following projects in the Montour County region:
- Construction of the new concrete skatepark at the Hess Recreation Area near Danville, PA
- Reconstruction of the access road leading into the Hess Recreation Area
- Maintenance and improvements to the hiking/biking trail network and athletic fields within the Hess Recreation Area
- Development of the Danville Riverfront and Open Space Master Plan
- Planning, permitting and construction of the North Branch Canal Trail from Danville, PA to Catawissa, PA and, one day, beyond
- Habitat improvement and restoration work in Mahoning Creek
- Organizing and directing the races of the River Towns Race Series
- Scheduling and maintenance of the sports fields at the PPL East Branch Recreation Area in Madison Township, Columbia County
- Construction of the 11+ mile-long Hopewell Park/Danville Borough Farm mountain bike trail network
- Maintenance and operation of the Montour Preserve