Trails on the expanded Pennypack

Northeast Times
By Tom Waring

Former congressman Bob Borski, now chairman of the Delaware River City Corp., is eager to see the trail extended at Pennypack on the Delaware park.
On an otherwise miserable Sunday weather-wise, Borski, Fairmount Park Commission executive director Mark Focht and others took part in a fence-cutting ceremony to mark the beginning of the trail extension.
“Mr. Focht, tear down that fence,” Borski said, sounding like former President Ronald Reagan ordering Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
The 65-acre park is located along the Delaware River, near Rhawn Street and adjacent to the Riverview Home and prisons.
It opened in 1999 and is used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, roller skaters, fishermen, picnickers, bird watchers and soccer and softball players.
The asphalt walking trail will be extended by a half-mile. It will proceed through a natural meadow, pass a tidal wetland and end at the mouth of the Pennypack Creek.
“We’re opening up a great asset,” Borski said.
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is funding the extension, which should be complete sometime in November.
“It’s a really exciting project for us,” said Sarah Thorp, executive director of the DRCC.
Focht, who succeeded Borski’s wife Karen as executive director of the park commission, said the area is beautiful and will be enhanced by graphic images and information about the wetland.
“This will bring more of an environmental focus to the park,” he said.
Ultimately, the trail will be extended another two-plus miles to Linden Avenue. It will have to weave around the police and fire academies and a water treatment plant. A bridge will be built to cross Pennypack Creek.
The Delaware River City Corp. is a non-profit organization founded in 2004. It is developing an 11-mile system of recreational trails, parks and open space stretching from Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond to the Poquessing Creek in Torresdale.
The development will include Lardner’s Point Park on a four-a-and-half-acre piece of ground at the base of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. The corporation has raised about $1 million toward the $1.5 million cost.
“I-95 took the river away from us. Our mission is to bring the river back to the people of the Northeast,” said Borski, who retired from the House of Representatives in 2002 after 20 years.
In addition, the DRCC plans to meet with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to discuss what it plans to do with St. Vincent’s Home, a care facility for adolescent girls that will close early next year.
The DRCC’s hope is that its initiatives will spur private developers to convert vacant land into residential, business and industrial uses. Right now, those developers are sitting on their properties in a soft real estate market.
There are proposed development sites at Rhawn Street, Princeton Avenue, Magee Avenue and Orthodox Street. An ownership dispute is delaying any movement on the Rhawn Street property.


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