East Torresdale group discusses Delaware River’s greenway initiative

This year will be a pivotal one for the Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion’s North Delaware Gre­en­way ini­ti­at­ive.

Ac­cord­ing to DRCC Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Tom Branigan, 2014 should bring an ex­ten­sion of Delaware Av­en­ue from Port Rich­mond in­to Brides­burg, the cre­ation of a 1.5-mile trail along an un­used rail­road bed in Ta­cony, as well as the start of con­struc­tion on the Bax­ter Trail, which will link Pennypack on the Delaware with Pleas­ant Hill Park in Holmes­burg and Tor­res­dale.

Those in­di­vidu­al pro­jects are all part of the broad­er ef­fort to cre­ate a 10-mile walk­ing, jog­ging and cyc­ling path along the river between Al­legheny Av­en­ue and the Bucks County line, Branigan said dur­ing the April 14 meet­ing of the East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation. Many more trail com­pon­ents are in the plan­ning stages, too. One day, they will all be part of the East Coast Gre­en­way, a con­tinu­ous, traffic-free 2,900-mile path from Key West, Fla., to Cal­ais, Maine, at the Ca­na­dian bor­der.

The DRCC will have to over­come some obstacles be­fore that hap­pens, but the dec­ade-old non­profit or­gan­iz­a­tion has already cleared many hurdles. In 2011, the DRCC opened a 4.5-acre park next to a pump­ing sta­tion in the shad­ow of the Ta­cony-Palmyra Bridge. Known as Lard­ner’s Point, the pub­lic green space con­tin­ues to grow with new vis­it­or amen­it­ies in­clud­ing a fish­ing pier, pic­nic area and multi-use path. The DRCC re­stored a fresh­wa­ter tid­al wet­lands and a ri­pari­an forest stand to pro­mote the re­sur­gence of wild­life in the park.

In re­cent months, the DRCC opened an­oth­er multi-use trail along Delaware Av­en­ue from Al­legheny to Lewis Street in Port Rich­mond. The as­phalt path is 12 feet wide and 1.6 miles long and fea­tures hun­dreds of newly planted trees and shrubs amid in­dus­tri­al sur­round­ings, Branigan said. The trail is slated to con­tin­ue north bey­ond Lewis Street and the Betsy Ross Bridge along­side the newly ex­ten­ded Delaware Av­en­ue.

Ac­cord­ing to Branigan, the Delaware Av­en­ue pro­ject has been a dec­ade in plan­ning and will serve an­oth­er com­munity-friendly pur­pose. De­sign­ers hope to steer com­mer­cial truck traffic off of res­id­en­tial Rich­mond Street in Brides­burg. The ini­tial phase would ex­tend the Av­en­ue from Lewis to Or­tho­dox Street. A second ex­ten­sion to Bucki­us Street is planned. En­gin­eers are study­ing how to con­tin­ue the new road even farther to Bridge Street, where north­bound trucks could ac­cess In­ter­state 95.

In the Holmes­burg and Tor­res­dale areas, en­gin­eers have already figured how they will work around sev­er­al oth­er prob­lem areas. Start­ing at Pennypack on the Delaware near Rhawn Street, the path will cross a new bridge over the Pennypack Creek, wind be­hind the Phil­adelphia Fire Academy and con­tin­ue along­side Pennypack Street, then State Road, be­fore turn­ing right at Linden Av­en­ue in­to Pleas­ant Hill Park. The path will con­tin­ue north along State Road to avoid privately owned con­domin­i­ums, then lead in­to the Glen Fo­erd es­tate at Grant Av­en­ue. Many ques­tions re­main, however, Branigan said. The DRCC is work­ing with con­sult­ants to for­mu­late a strategy for the “gap” between the pub­licly owned Ta­cony boat launch next to the Di­etz & Wat­son plant and the Pennypack on the Delaware park area. The 2.5-mile stretch is dom­in­ated by private in­dus­tri­al prop­er­ties, some act­ive, some idle and some en­vir­on­ment­ally con­tam­in­ated.

In the mean­time, the DRCC is try­ing to en­gage the com­munity in sev­er­al ways. The or­gan­iz­a­tion is look­ing for area res­id­ents to par­ti­cip­ate in vo­lun­teer “friends” groups that could ad­opt the parks and trails along the gre­en­way. Ta­cony Town Watch has already taken a keen in­terest in Lard­ner’s Point and will be honored on May 15 at DRCC’s fourth an­nu­al Spring Fling at Quaker City Yacht Club, Branigan said. DRCC Chair­man Bob Bor­ski and ex­ec­ut­ive sec­ret­ary Mari­ann Port­er De­mp­sey will also re­ceive awards for their ser­vice. Com­munity mem­bers are in­vited to the ban­quet. For tick­et in­form­a­tion, vis­it drcc-phila.org

Also, on May 10, the DRCC will host a Lard­ner’s Point cleanup and tree plant­ing. Vo­lun­teers are asked to vis­it the park that day to re­move debris and to help plant a dozen new trees. De­tails are also avail­able on the web­site.

• In un­re­lated busi­ness, the East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation an­nounced that any polit­ic­al can­did­ates wish­ing to ad­dress res­id­ents in ad­vance of the May 20 primary should no­ti­fy the civic as­so­ci­ation by April 30. The next ETCA meet­ing will be on May 12, 7 p.m., at Liberty Evan­gel­ic­al Free Church, Linden Av­en­ue and Mil­nor Street. To con­tact the ETCA, vis­it east­tor­res­da­le­civic.com or email to et­caon­line@ve­r­i­zon.net. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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