Northeast Times

A waterfront splash

Start­Frag­ment

Tom Branigan prom­ises that pro­gress is be­ing made in the plan­ning of a North Delaware River­front Gre­en­way.

Branigan has been ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the non-profit Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion since Janu­ary. He ex­plained that trails are in vari­ous stages of design along the 11-mile, 700-acre stretch from Al­legheny Av­en­ue to the Poquess­ing Creek, near Grant Av­en­ue at the Bucks County line.

“It’s ex­cit­ing,” he said. “My board is anxious to get shovels in the ground. Even­tu­ally, there will be more city park space.”

Branigan, 59, a long­time Fox Chase res­id­ent, worked for 38 years at the city’s De­part­ment of Streets, re­tir­ing in 2007 as an en­gin­eer­ing man­ager.

DRCC, which began in 2004 and has its of­fices at the Ar­sen­al Busi­ness Cen­ter, had been without an ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or be­cause of a fund­ing short­fall for some time be­fore Branigan was hired.

Some­time in the late 1990s, then-U.S. Rep. Bob Bor­ski and oth­ers began work­ing to­ward eco­lo­gic­al res­tor­a­tion and to open the river to the pub­lic for re­cre­ation­al op­por­tun­it­ies.

A few years later, private de­velopers began boast­ing that they’d build mixed-use neigh­bor­hoods that in­cluded hous­ing, re­tail, re­cre­ation, of­fices, parks, a hotel, mar­ina and health and well­ness cen­ter.

While the eco­nomy has side­lined those de­velopers, the DRCC con­tin­ues to move for­ward.

The first small step took place in Novem­ber 2008, when a nature trail opened ad­ja­cent to Pennypack on the Delaware, a park near Rhawn Street and the Delaware River.

Since then, the trail, which ends at Pennypack Creek, has been en­joyed by walk­ers, bi­cyc­lists, anglers, bird­watch­ers and oth­ers.

“People love to be by the river,” said Branigan, who ex­plained DRCC’s ef­forts at a re­cent Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing.

There are pro­posed trails for the North Delaware River­front’s six neigh­bor­hoods - Port Rich­mond, Brides­burg, Wissi­nom­ing, Ta­cony, Holmes­burg and East Tor­res­dale.

The trails will wind their way through com­mer­cial uses, gov­ern­ment fa­cil­it­ies, boat­ing clubs, res­id­en­tial de­vel­op­ments and the Tioga Mar­ine Ter­min­al.

The trail will run in­to an obstacle at the Fire Academy, for­cing it to travel on Pennypack Street to bike lanes on State Road to Linden Av­en­ue be­fore mak­ing its way east to Pleas­ant Hill Park.

All of the trail seg­ments will be part of the na­tion­al East Coast Gre­en­way, a 3,000-mile bi­cycle trail from Maine to Flor­ida.

The loc­al grounds will be part of Fair­mount Park, and the city De­part­ment of Parks and Re­cre­ation will handle the over­sight and main­ten­ance.

One high­light of the pro­ject in­cludes Lard­ner’s Point Park, a pro­posed 4&1/2-acre park between Rob­bins Av­en­ue and Levick Street that will fea­ture a fish­ing pier, pic­nic tables and benches, a small park­ing lot, bi­cycle racks, trash re­cept­acles, re­strooms and a drink­ing foun­tain. A grand open­ing could come next spring.

There will also be a bridge that crosses Frank­ford Creek and a two-lane river road, man­aged by the streets de­part­ment, which will go to Or­tho­dox Street ini­tially and farther north even­tu­ally.

The one con­stant will be 12-foot-wide trails bordered by trees and shrub­bery. Folks can walk, run, bi­cycle, roller blade, walk their dogs and more.

“It’s go­ing to be what we call multi-use trails. They will def­in­itely en­hance the area. We hope they de­vel­op as a link to the river,” Branigan said.

Much of the plans are in design, with per­mits a small hurdle. A bid­ding pro­cess will pre­cede con­struc­tion, which isn’t too far away. Fund­ing, of course, is al­ways an is­sue.

Branigan and the DRCC are grate­ful for fin­an­cial sup­port from the fed­er­al, state and city gov­ern­ments, along with the Wil­li­am Penn Found­a­tion and the Na­tion­al Fish and Wild­life Found­a­tion.

The whole pro­ject will take up to eight years to com­plete. Long-term fun ideas in­clude kayak­ing, boat rides, yacht club pro­grams and river­front movie nights.

“There is a lot of stuff go­ing on at the end of this year and the be­gin­ning of next year,” Branigan said. “We’re go­ing to build it and then en­hance it. It’s go­ing to be nice.”

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

On the river­front agenda …

The Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion has sev­er­al up­com­ing events:

On Wed­nes­day, May 18, from 5 to 7 p.m., the DRCC will host a Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce busi­ness card ex­change at the Delaware River Yacht Club, at 9635 Mil­nor St.

On Thursday, May 19, from 5 to 7 p.m., there will be a fund-rais­ing Spring Fling at the Delaware River Yacht Club. Tick­ets cost $50 and in­clude beer, wine and oth­er re­fresh­ments.

On Sat­urday, May 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, a cleanup and tree plant­ing will take place at Pennypack on the Delaware park, at Rhawn Street and the Delaware River. It’ll be held rain or shine.

For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-537-8400 or vis­it www.drcc-phila.org

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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