The Hacktory is bidding farewell to summer at the Gray's Ferry Crescent and its symbol: Photuris Pennsylvanica. This little bug is the most common firefly in our region, and also Pennsylvania's state insect. As part of this effort, the Hacktory is offering several opportunities to make electronic fireflies and mimic these amazing beetles by becoming part of a Firefly Swarm (aka bike parade). Hacktory staff along with other volunteers from the Bicycle Coalition will gather lit up friends and neighbors along the route to direct people to the final stop at the Crescent. Once at the Crescent, parade participants will have the opportunity to be a part of a Swarm interacting with fabricated fireflies with cell phones and other lights. All of these activities are FREE and open to the public!
Firefly Swarm/Bike Parade on September 18, 7-9 pm, FREE!
Meet at SW corner of Rittenhouse park
Bike Light Workshop on September 20th, 6-8 pm, FREE!
At the Crescent (RSVP is required)
Firefly Workshop on September 21st, 4-6 pm, followed by a Firefly Swarm in the park at 7 pm. FREE!
At the Crescent (RSVP is required)
Firefly Workshop on September 25, 6-8 pm, FREE!
At The Hacktory (RSVP is required)
Firefly Swarm/Bike Parade on September 27, 7-9 pm, FREE!
Meet at SW corner of Rittenhouse park
HELP BUILD A MASSIVE CARDBOARD MODEL OF 400 YEARS OF PHILADELPHIA HISTORY ALONG THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER IN JUST 48 HOURS!
September 20-22nd * All Ages Wanted * Grays Ferry Crescent * Food * Prizes * Adventure
CAMP CRESCENT! is a festival of making, building and exploring for all ages at the Grays Ferry Crescent that uniquely engages nearby community members and park visitors in investigating and celebrating the rich history and vibrant natural assets of the park. Taking place September 20-22nd, community members, school groups, park visitors, and existing users will explore and celebrate the Grays Ferry Crescent by building cardboard models of the forts, buildings, bridges, and development that shaped the Schuylkill River and Philadelphia’s history. Throughout the weekend there will be complimentary events, challenges and activities–such as a Jump-The-Schuylkill Skateboarding Competition, Grays Ferry Crescent Flag Design Competition, Build-Bartram’s-Birdhouses!, and Make-Your-Own-Robotic-Firefly—that celebrate unique moments and features along the River’s history.
The building festivities kick-off at 6.00 pm on September 20th at Camp Crescent in the Grays Ferry Crescent Park with the building of the Dutch and Swedish forts that dotted the area in the 17th century. By late Sunday afternoon, participants of all ages will have constructed a massive, spectacular model of 400 years of development, engineering innovation, and Philadelphia history from everyday pieces of cardboard and be exploring a new future for the Grays Ferry Crescent and the Schuylkill River.
No particular skills, knowledge, materials, or tools are necessary to participate. Snacks will be provided throughout and prizes will be awarded for the various competitions throughout the weekend as well as the most prolific builders–Building Heroes!–who log the most hours helping build Philadelphia’s history. Sign up on Public Workshop's facebook page.
Circuit Postcard Trail Day - Brandywine Tour - September 1st
Circuit Postcard Trail Day - Cooper River - September 7th
Circuit Postcard Trail Day - Scenic Schuylkill Century - September 8th
Circuit Postcard Trail Day - Chester Valley Trail - September 21st
Circuit Commitment Campaign Talk at TTF Meeting - September 24th
Circuit Postcard Trail Day - Bucks County - September 28th
Delaware River Heritage Trail Ribbon Cutting - September 8th
Delaware River Heritage Ride - September 8th
Cynwyd Heritage Trail Planting Prep - September 14th
Discover the Hidden River at Gray's Ferry Crescent - September 20-22nd
Millennium Bridge Lighting Ceremony on Schuylkill Banks - September 26th
Schuylkill Banks Movie Night - Moonrise Kingdom - September 5th
Secrets of the Schuylkill Riverboat Tour - September 5th
Basic Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tours - September 5th-28th
Schuylkill Riverboat Tour to Bartram's Garden - September 8th
Basic Schuylkill River Kayak Tours - September 8th
Schuylkill Banks Movie Night - Rocky - September 12th
Schuylkill Riverboat to Bartram's Garden - September 14th
Basic Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tour - September 21st
Moonlight Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tour - September 21st
Secrets of the Schuylkill Riverboat Tour - September 21st
Basic Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tour - September 28th
Early Bird Rate for Cycles & Cemeteries Ride - September 5th
Delaware River Heritage Trail Ride - September 8th
Cycles and Cemeteries Ride - September 21st
West Laurel Hill Woof Walk - September 21st
Get Your Tail on the Trail - September 28th
2013 Philly Fun Fishing Fest - September 7th
Trust 5K Walk/Run on the D&L - September 7th
Dance on Falls Bridge - September 7th
Friends of Schuylkill Bank Soiree - September 14th
2013 Pennsylvania Greenways and Trail Summit - September 15-17th
Cobbs Creek Trail pre-proposal RFP meeting - September 12th
Philly Love Notes is a website devoted to just that - love notes to a place or aspect of Philadelphia, written by residents new and old. This week's Love Note was written by Poly Math (a pen name) to the Schuylkill River Trail, and features some lovely photographs of the views from Schuylkill Banks.
Cynwyd Heritage Trail Sunset Toast August 1
August Schuylkill River Pedal and Paddle August 17th
Schuylkill Banks Movie Night: My Cousin Vinny August 22nd
Get Your Tail on the Trail (Delaware & Lehigh) August 24th
Camden GreenWay Ribbon Cutting August 27th
Using some "Burma Shave" signs to help lure trail users over to our table, volunteer Glenn Davis and I got 40+ postcards signed last night at the Schuylkill Banks movie night! Thanks to Josh Nims, Zoe Axelrod, Danielle Gray and Joe Syrnick for their assistance and support. Glenn was a super volunteer; thank you Glenn! And a special thanks to Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia for helping me put the Burma Shave signs together. It was a great evening and a lot of fun to talk to people about the Circuit Commitment campaign. Anyone willing to volunteer to get postcards filled out or borrow the Burma Shave signs to use themselves some weekend on their favorite trail, please ! To see the images of the set up, check out this little gif animation.
Lots of good stuff happening #onthecircuit in July.
Thursday Night Movie Series. Schuylkill Banks is showing a series of movies on Thursday nights at both its Walnut Street and Gray's Ferry Crescent Locations. All movies start at dusk and last two hours.
July 11 - How to Train Your Dragon (Walnut Street)
July 18 - Men In Black (Gray's Ferry Crescent)
July 25 - Midnight in Paris (Walnut Street)
August 1 - Rocky (Paine's Park)
July 6-28th Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tours - Kayak the Schuylkill River from Walnut St. to the Art Museum dam and back (Saturdays and one Thursday evening)
July 11-27 Secrets of the Schuylkill Riverboat Tours - (Thursday and Saturday evenings)
July 13th PHS Green Machine Workshop on Cynwyd Trail
July 17th Cynwyd Trail Weeding Day
July 20th Cynwyd Heritage Trail Workday
(June 14, 2013) The Schuylkill Banks trail and greenway is more than just a pretty place to get some exercise, according to a recent economic study.
It will cost a total of $60 million to build the trail sections and affiliated parts that are either complete now or scheduled to be finished by 2015. The study by Econsult Solutions says that direct expenditure will create 320 jobs within the city and 1,020 state wide; generate $780,000 in city tax revenues and $3.2 million in state tax revenues. It will produce $89.4 million in total expenditures, when taking into account both the direct expenditures – the costs of creating and maintaining the green space – and indirect expenditures – such as trail workers spending their earnings and goods and services.
The river projects also have and will continue to have a positive impact on housing values in the development area, said economist Lee Huang, a senior vice president and principal at Econsult Solutions who worked on the study, which was paid for by the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, the entity building the trail.
“We've always felt there were economic benefits to the trail, and that it is an economic engine, not just a recreational thing,” said SRDC President Joe Syrnick. “The economic engine is an argument that makes more sense when the biggest problem we have is funding,” he said. “We can say it's not a cost, but an investment. These things will pay for themselves over time.”
Syrnick, who made these comments at a recent Philadelphia City Planning Commission meeting, recused himself when the rest of the board voted to support a property bill that will allow SRDC to build the planned portion of the trail from South Street to Christian Street. The bill, green lighting the commissioner of public property to acquire land from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, has since passed council.
Huang, of Econsult, said that the initial impacts of building a riverfront trail and parks are no different than spending the same amount on any other project – it's money pumped into the local economy through the purchase of labor and goods, and cycled again by suppliers making more product and workers spending their wages. “But what you are left with when you are done could be very different,” he said. Huang noted there is more and more literature on the economic benefit of trails, and the positive impact they have on property values.
“You see their usefulness in drawing both employees and employers to an area,” he said. “Increasingly, when people are looking for a place to live and work, or a place to relocate or expand their business, they are looking for a place where they can have outdoor amenities.”
And the trail along the Schuylkill – which Huang himself uses - “Is a really nice amenity that people enjoy.”
The Econsult study says the average value of a home in the SRDC development area was $123,020 in 2000, and had increased to $312,252 by 2011. “Investments made by SRDC were therefore partially responsible for an increase of over 150 percent in residential property value near the Schuylkill Banks since 2000.”
Noting that property value in many parts of the city increased during that time, PlanPhilly asked Huang if it was possible to tease out the portion of that increase directly attributable to the Schuylkill Banks projects.
Huang said Econsult did not extract that for this report, but did so for a PennFuture study in 2010. In that study, he said, the economists sought to answer the question: What are the economic benefits of building out the waterfront trail on both sides of both rivers.
The conclusion, reached in part by looking at earlier Philadelphia studies and reports: “People are willing to pay a 4- to 7-percent premium for parcels within short walking distance” from a trail or green space, Huang said.
Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District, called the accessibility of some of the Schuylkill Banks projects to Center City residents “an extraordinary advantage.” He sits on the Schuylkill River Development Corporation board, lives close to the Schuylkill, and said the trail is used by everyone from young professionals to families with kids.
Levy said investing in Schuylkill Banks and other parks and green space is crucial “if we're going to get more North Americans to live in high-density cities.” For all the wonderful things city life offers, it doesn't offer the back yards of the suburbs, he said. “These spaces are our backyards.”
“We need to be doing the same thing on the Delaware,” he said.
The city has a Master Plan for the Central Delaware, and a trail and new parks are part of it. Some parts are finished, and others are underway.
Huang said the findings of the Schuylkill Banks study could be extrapolated to the Central Delaware Riverfront.
“One would think, in a broad sense, the economic impact of having something like Schuylkill Banks, along the Delaware would be just as impactful, if not more impactful,” he said. “More people live close to the (Delaware) River.”
City zoning law requires that any riverfront development along the Delaware or Schuylkill be set back 50 feet from the water. It is within this setback that the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is planning to build much of the trail. Some development advocates have said this and open space requirements and other provisions of the new Central Delaware Overlay will financially harm landowners or developers.
Huang said that requirements may cost some landowners or developers more than the value that would be added to their property by a trail or other waterfront amenity, depending on circumstances.
“On one hand, they are forgoing space they can develop on, and generate revenues from,” he said. “On the other hand, being connected to a trailway confers additional value.”
Huang says whether the benefits outweigh the cost for an individual developer/land owner depends on a lot of factors, including the size of the parcel, how intensely the parcel is being developed, and the spatial distribution of the development. “In some cases (a setback) is no big deal. In some cases, it can be somewhat punitive, depending on what would have been done with the land otherwise.”
Are there any negative impacts on other city residents?
It may make it more difficult for some people to afford their taxes or rent, Huang said, but for most property owners, the impact is overall very positive. He went on:
“If I own property, and something good is added nearby and I enjoy that thing, then yay for me. But even if I don't enjoy it, I”m benefiting because the value of my property has gone up in the marketplace,” he said.
But if assessments are kept up to date, the positive growth will be somewhat offset by an increase in the property tax bill.
This can be difficult for people on fixed incomes, he said. And tax increases are generally passed on to renters with increased rent, he said, and while they have a new amenity to enjoy, some may be eventually forced out by the increase.
But Huang said for most nearby residents, the positives far outweigh the negatives. An increase in property value “is what most people in America are striving for.”
Just in time for the high season, nine banners with trail etiquette messages were installed today on Schuylkill Banks.
The messages include sharing the path, slowing down and being courteous.
Over 800,000 people use Schuylkill Banks annually and on beautiful warm days, the number of people using the path can make you think you are on I-76 on a Phillies/Eagles game day. User conflicts are not uncommon and The Circuit Coalition decided this was a good place to communicate tastefully some messages about civility and safety.
Many were involved in making these banners possible: the William Penn Foundation, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Maskar Design, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Narducci Brothers, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
See you on The Circuit!
By Kellie Patrick Gates, published in Plan Philly
April 29, 2013 A silvery metal pier newly jutting into the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia's Forgotten Bottom neighborhood offers open views of the water and the University Ave./34th St. Bridge. Glimpses of the Woodlands Cemetery and Mansion can be seen behind trees across the water.
In its past life, the pier was owned by Dupont Marshall Labs. This is the spot where river water was pumped through still-visible pipes in case of a fire. The pier has been revitalized as one of the latest addition to the Grey's Ferry Crescent segment of the Schuylkill Banks Trail.
“The Fishing Pier,” Schuylkill River Development Corporation President Joe Syrnick calls it on a recent visit. Indeed, that's what a lot of its visitors do there.
A bend in the curvaceous Schuylkill hides a tract of land on the opposite bank where design is underway for the Bartram's Mile trail segment. Construction will begin in 2014 or 2015, said SRDC Director of Marketing Danielle Gray, and the segment will open in 2015 or 2016.
Bartram's Mile will connect walkers, joggers and bicyclists to the plants and open space and historic buildings of Bartram's Gardens.
But first, the SRDC has to secure a way to get trail users from the east side of the river – where Grays Ferry Crescent lies – to the west side – the home of Bartram's Gardens and the in-the-works Bartram's mile.
The plan: Reusing an old freight train bridge, just south of Grays Ferry Avenue.
While rusty, the bridge is structurally sound, Syrnick said. A swing bridge that once closed for freight trains but swung open for tall watercraft, it has been in the open position for decades.
But SRDC hasn't yet reached a deal that would allow the bridge to be incorporated into the trail. Syrnick isn't worried about acquiring the swing bridge - talks with the railroad that owns it have been great. He's worried about how far above the water the re-purposed span would rest.
Under the trail plan, the old swing bridge would be closed permanently. At its current height, the span would cross 22 feet above the water. SRDC proposes making the supports higher, so that it is 35 feet high – about the same height as the South Street Bridge.
Some industrial users of the river have concerns that height could interfere with some barge traffic, however. SRDC has hired a consultant to negotiate with river-users.
The higher the bridge is, the more expensive that part of the trail would be, Syrnick said. But he is also concerned about the aesthetics and the experience trail users would have if they had to use long ramps to get to the higher height.
When asked if trail users couldn't cross on the nearby Grays Ferry Avenue bridge, Syrnick, who was once the city's chief engineer, said that bridge carries a lot of traffic, including trucks. Giving those in motor vehicles and those on foot or bicycles separate crossings is “better for motorists and for recreational users,” he said.
Syrnick also likes re-using part of the city's industrial past that otherwise could wind up as scrap metal. “It's a critical, critical link,” he said of this piece of trail. Without it, Bartram's Mile will be isolated.
This project is projected to cost about $8 million, depending on the bridge height. The SRDC has the $400,000 for planning, acquired through a grant. They've begun raising money for construction, Gray said.
Under the Schuylkill Banks trail plan, recreational users will one day be able to travel along the river from Fairmount Park to the confluence with the Delaware River. That day is probably 20 years off, Syrnick said.
Currently, users can travel from Kelly Drive, past the Art Museum to Locust Street. The Grays Ferry Crescent and Bartram's Garden segments are also complete, but as indicated earlier, are not connected.
But SRDC is now finishing work on the last of seven priority projects outlined in its 2003 master plan: A boardwalk and ramp that would extend the trail to South Street. These $17 million projects are expected to be finished in late summer 2014.
Design work is also underway on a segment that would stretch to Christian Street.
In addition to these capital projects, the SRDC hosts events near and on the river. After a one-year hiatus caused by a disagreement with the former operator, the SRDC's riverboat tours program is back. Learn more about the tours and other events and projects at the Schuylkill Banks website, here.
The “Boat to Bartram's Garden Tour” starts on Mother's Day. It includes one hour of on-the-river transit time and a two-hour tour of Bartram's Gardens. Some seats are still available, Gray said, and the SRDC is pondering adding a fourth tour. Boaters board The Schuylkill Perch at the Walnut Street Dock, beneath Walnut Street.
The regular riverboat tour season begins May 30. In addition to the Bartram's Garden option, there's a one hour “Secrets of the Schuylkill” tour, which also boards at the Walnut Street Dock. From Walnut Street, The Perch heads north to Fairmount, and then down river to Bartram's before heading back to dock.
On either tour, travelers learn about river sites and history – and SRDC's trail.
Syrnick notes that many of the old mansions and homes near the Schuylkill, including the Bartram house, were built with their fronts facing the river.
“Today, everyone visits by car, but (centuries ago), visitors came by boat,” he said. Boat tour takers will re-live that experience, he said.
Back at the Grays Crescent Fishing Pier, a low-slung, rectangular building clings to the riverbank.
That building was once a hotel where Philadelphia Eagles stayed during home games, Syrnick said. To learn more about the unusual structure, and waive to current residents, take a boat tour, he suggests.
There are a number of trails under construction that are going to make an appearance soon.
Connector Bridge -- The installation of railings on the prefabricated truss bridge and approach ramps is underway on the Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge project over the CSX tracks between Spruce and Locust Streets. Work continues on the restoration of the Schuylkill River Park and Schuylkill Banks. The City hopes to have an opening ceremony in October, possibly in conjunction with Schuylkill River Park's Fall Festival. Some delays in the procurement of light fixtures may impact a complete opening of the bridge on that day. SRDC will have more information about the opening ceremony in its August newsletter.
Shawmont to Port Royal Avenue -- Construction of the portion of trail from Port Royal Avenue to Montgomery County line is complete. Work continues on the section from Shawmont to Port Royal along Nixon Street, including paving and completion of a retaining wall along the trail parallel to Nixon Street. Work is expected to be completed in Fall 2012.
Walnut Street Bridge Gateway - The Walnut Street Bridge project is moving along smoothly. Decorative granite pavers were installed on the south sidewalk and the new pedestrian lights have been erected. Some of the “expressway-like” overhead signs have been replaced with smaller signs that are more in keeping with the scale of the bridge, and the rest will be replaced soon. The south sidewalk is finished, so the contractor has switched traffic patterns and is doing similar work on north sidewalk. When this project is completed in September, vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians should all enjoy a safer, and cheerier, crossing of the river.
Cynwyd Station & Cynwyd Trailhead -- Two projects are nearing completion and there is an October 28th date set for a ribbon cutting for both.
58th Street Greenway -- The trail is being paved this summer. Trees, lighting, and pedestrian signage will be installed early this fall and a ribbon cutting to follow. Programming to celebrate the greenway is already underway through the Get Active 58th! program.
Camden Greenway -- Three projects are under construction that will significantly enhance the Camden Greenway: Pearl Street (next to the Ben Franklin Bridge), MLK Boulevard Waterfront Connection, and Pine Street Connector
Tacony Creek - Trail construction of Phase 1 (I & Ramona to Whitaker Avenue) is underway as of July 2012.
Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
Port Richmond Section of the East Coast Greenway
Penn Street Trail
Realignment of the Delaware Riverfront Trail between Pier 70 and Washington Avenue