First, on November 1st, the final results of a preliminary engineering study of the Wissahickon Gateway were presented to the public for the first time at the Gustine Rec. Center. PPR, along with their consultants Baker Inc. and Toole Design, have been negotiating with multiple landowners to figure out a way to thread a trail between East Falls and Manayunk (from the trail on Kelly Drive that ends at Ridge Avenue over to the Pencoyd Bridge on Main Street.)
|3 possible ways to close the gap (click for bigger view)|
Another property owner involved in the trail planning, the Steinberg family, has not reached an understanding with Parks and Recreation. The Steinberg family owns the Duron Paint Store, Restaurant Depot, and Mr. Storage parcels, and have not agreed to allow a trail behind their buildings. That trail, if allowed, would connect with the existing easement behind Bart Blatstein's Movie Theater and Diner complex.
|The Parks & Rec Dept's preferred route to close the gap (click for bigger view)|
The second and third important gaps in the Schuylkill River Trail were made open to the public this past Saturday. This past weekend, Parks and Recreation, PennPraxis, Schuylkill River Development Corp and Bartram's Garden led the first of four civic engagement activities; a bike tour of two parcels lying north and south of Bartram's Garden (Bartram's Mile North and South). Both sites are currently vacant industrial land owned by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). This was the first time that members of the public were allowed to tour these two parcels and they were fascinating! The tour included a visit to a Streets Department Maintenance Facility that lies in between the old National Heat and Power site and Bartram's Garden. The Streets Department facility is the site of a former garbage reduction plant and is a wonderful representative of Philadelphia's hidden industrial history.
Bartram's Mile North includes both the Streets Dept site and the former National Heat and Power site, a brownfield requiring considerable environmental clean up. The parcel ends at 51st and Botanic Avenue, where the Bartram's Garden property begins on the other side of an active freight railway bridge. The National Heat and Power site is a hodgepodge of foundations and retaining walls and was a popular short dumping site until PIDC put up surrounding fencing. A Community Design Collaborative Infill Philadelphia project has already made a proposal on how to develop the land. This site will ultimately connect to the Gray's Ferry Crescent via a new bike/ped Crossing (using an abandoned truss) that is being planned and designed by Schuylkill River Development Corporation.
|Tour participants check out the waterfront in Bartram's Mile South|
Parks and Recreation has been negotiating with PIDC for a frontage of at least 50 feet from the river's edge to create two riverfront trails.
PennPraxis has an online survey seeking input on Bartram's Miles North and South, or you can send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. See this Flickr set for more photos from the Bartram's Mile tour, and this PlanPhilly article for more coverage.