Calling all Phoenixville-area community members! This weekend, you are invited to head downtown to for a whole host of family fun events on and around the new two-mile trail segment of the Schuylkill River Trail. Activities include everything from a bike tour along the new trail, a bike check and a complementary bike helmet fitting station to live music, chalk and plein air art (painting outdoors!) and more. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the Walking Bridge at the Foundry and the Phoenixville Farmer’s Market. For more information, visit http://www.schuylkillrivertowns.com/new-events/2015/4/25/phoenixville-trail-opening-celebration.
The official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the new two-mile segment of the Schuylkill River Trail in Phoenixville is today, representing another significant step forward in the continued development of the Circuit. If you're in the neighborhood around 4 p.m., join us for the festivities! The ribbon cutting will take place at the Walking Bridge at the Foundry located at 2 N. Main Street in Phoenixville. Immediately following the ribbon cutting ceremony, participants in the Sly Fox Brewing Co. "SRT Spree" will kayak from Riverfront Park to Lock 60 then bike to the new trail head to demonstrate how easy it is to transition from river to trail (read more about the Sly Fox Brewing Co. "SRT Spree" here).
The newly developed Phoenixville trail is a recreation and transportation path for cyclists, runners and pedestrians, connecting the local community to the riverfront and neighboring towns. As a key link in the region's trail network, the new segment closes what has been viewed as a high-priority gap in the Schuylkill River Trail, connecting the Phoenixville Borough to over 60 miles of finished trail, including a 26-mile stretch from Philadelphia to Phoenixville. When fully complete, the Schuylkill River Trail will total approximately 130 miles from Philadelphia to Pottsville, comprising a large segment of the Circuit, which will ultimately include 750 miles of multi-use trails through greater Philadelphia and South Jersey.
Funding for the Phoenixville segment of the Schuylkill River Trail was provided by the William Penn Foundation, through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), and The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area managed by the Schuylkill River Greenway Association. The Phoenixville segment was designed by Ray Ott and Associates and Campbell Thomas & Company and constructed by the Borough’s Public Works Department.
On Thursday, September 26th, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) Board approved 13 projects for funding from the final phase of the Regional Trail Program, which was created and funded by a $10 million grant from the William Penn Foundation.
The Regional Trail Program aims to provide funding for targeted, priority trail design, construction and planning projects that will promote a truly connected, regional network of multi-use trails (the Circuit) with Philadelphia and Camden as its hub.
Phase III of the program provided capital funding for trail design and construction projects. Approximately $4 million was available for Phase III grants. Individual grant awards are capped at $500,000 and all projects require a 20 percent match. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued in March and 31 proposals were submitted by the deadline in mid-April. The proposals were evaluated by a Selection Committee composed of Foundation representatives, PennDOT and NJDOT, DVRPC staff, and regional trail funders and advocates.
Based on Committee review and subsequent follow-up, the following 13 projects were recommended for funding and approved on Thursday by the DVRPC Board.
Total grant request amount for all 13 Phase III projects is $3,988,608. The total match amount is $9,318,081 and the total cost of all the projects is $13,306,149.
Phase III represents the final amount of funding available from this program. Future funding depends on the DVRPC board. This is why the Circuit Coalition currently is running the Circuit Committment campaign, seeking a decision from the DVRPC Board to replenish the fund with $10 Milion over a three year period.
The Borough of Phoenixvile is currently constructing the one of the missing links to the Schuylkill River Trail. The current phase extends about one mile along the north side of French Creek from the Phoenix Iron Column Bridge adjacent to the Foundry up to High Street. The trail will be packed gravel and the project should be completed by the fall.
Most of the project is on the perimeter of the former site of the Phoenix Iron Works which closed in 1984.
An application for the next phase has been submitted for the Regional Trails Fund. If selected the money will be available to complete the trail in Phoenixville, connecting the completed Chester County section at the Cromby trailhead with the with the Route 29 Bridge over the Schuylkill River at Mont Clare.
EAST VINCENT — Northern Chester County residents got a taste of county government on Wednesday as the commissioners held their regular business meeting in the township’s municipal building, and presented an update on the progress of the Schuylkill River Trail.
The meeting was one in a planned series of “On The Road” meetings meant to bring the workings of county government to various geographical areas in the county.
“The more we do this in other communities, the more people will understand what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said commissioners’ Chairman Ryan Costello, a former East Vincent supervisor, after the meeting.
The first phase of the project, said Stauffer, was a 5.75-mile stretch from Cromby at the Phoenixville borough line north to Linfield Road in East Coventry that was completed in 2012. A portion of the trail south of Bridge Street in Spring City had opened in the fall of 2010, while the trail north of Bridge Street officially opened in 2011.
The trail has proven popular, with county park rangers estimating that between 35,000 and 40,000 people used the trail last year, Stauffer said.
With progress stalled for years, the council voted 5-3 to use eminent domain to acquire the right to build a Phoenixville section of the Schuylkill River Trail.
After a lengthy debate, the borough council voted 5-3 on November 14 to condemn, via eminent domain, certain easements and rights of way on a property that's long stood in the way of its plans to expand the Schuylkill River Trail.
The property, formerly a rail line along the French Creek Corridor, extends north across High and Fillmore Streets.
The members who voted in the affirmative claimed that using eminent domain was a last resort. Borough manager E. Jean Krack said he attempted on multiple occasions to contact Valley Forge Railways, the owner of the parcel, but to no avail.
“The railroad abandoned the property,” he said.
Solicitor Andrew D.H. Rau added that the borough was at a “dead end with the property owner” and emphasized that it wasn’t attempting to take the property as taxable land, but just seeking an easement to allow for the trail.
The decision had its detractors. While councilman Jim Kovaleski called eminent domain “heavy handed” and suggested that there were other, better, alternatives, Karl Bucus was the most vocal critic of the proposal. He suggested the council would be wise to table the issue for a month; during which time it could develop a preliminary budget outlining the legal cost of the maneuver, while enlisting the aid of trail-supporting legislators Jim Gerlach and Andy Dinniman in the hopes of acquiring the right to build through less controversial means. The suggestion was voted down 6-2.
The advocates of eminent domain downplayed the problem of its cost.
While Rau said he couldn’t provide any estimate of what legal fees the borough would incur in the course of the eminent domain action, he said that if it becomes apparent the cost will outweigh the benefit, the borough could withdraw its request.
Council president Richard Kirkner added legal fees shouldn’t be the only financial consideration. The grant to develop the trail isn’t, he said, open-ended.
“If we don’t get this done at a certain point the grant could go away and the cost of building a trail is on us…it could make the legal fees seem trivial,” said Kirkner.
“Do we want a trail? Or do we want to talk about eminent domain here?”
Councilmen Christopher Bauers, Jim Kovaleski and Karl Bucus voted no.