Jul 30, 2014

Mayor Nutter to Validate Manayunk Towpath's Reopening

Ribbon-cutting ceremony announced for Feb. 23.

Mayor Nutter to Validate Manayunk Towpath's Reopening Mayor Nutter to Validate Manayunk Towpath's Reopening Mayor Nutter to Validate Manayunk Towpath's Reopening Mayor Nutter to Validate Manayunk Towpath's Reopening Mayor Nutter to Validate Manayunk Towpath's Reopening

Check this one off the list. As construction continues all along the Schuylkill River in Manayunk, the  is at least back in business.

Mayor Michael Nutter will ceremoniously cut the ribbon at the trail by the Manayunk Canal Feb. 23, marking months of cleanups and updates to the soon-to-be scenic walkway.

"It seems like many things are in motion, which is exciting after seeing incremental movement in the city for so many years," said Kay Sykora, director of the Schuylkill Project, which has put into motion many improvement projects in Manayunk, East Falls and Lower Merion Township.

A key project for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the , the refurbishment of the bike trail involved paving, clearing and cleaning the path. In a project update meeting held at the  Tuesday, Sykora and city officials detailed the current status of the many river projects.

(To read updates on Venice Island construction and the Manayunk Canal click here).

From the parks department, Rob Armstrong said the project is 95 percent complete and should finish next week—in plenty of time for the ceremony Feb. 23 with Nutter at Lock Street.

The towpath project rehabbed, repaved and reinvigorated the trail alongside the canal and into Shawmont. Through city funds, grant and volunteers, the revitalization has chugged along. On Martin Luther King Day, 147 volunteers took to the trail for cleanup, Sykora said.

With overgrown vegetation cleared, Armstrong said the paths were widened to 8 to 12 feet, up from 4 to 5 feet in some tight spots. Other areas near Cotton and Rector Streets, having experienced washout, were paved with a semipermeable surface. Broken boards were replaced on boardwalk areas, too. 

Armstrong said areas outside of the original plans were also updated—like approaches to bridges were paved. Residents of Shawmont Valley President Dave Cellini asked the reasoning at the meeting.

"So erosion doesn't happen over time," Armstrong said, adding the wood wears out and bumps emerge for bikers.

Shawmont resident Judy Stepenaskie asked, "What's to prevent the bikers from going off the trail?"

Armstrong said fences would be added, and Sykora said appropriate vegetation is coming. 

"We can't do it right now due to the projects, and it will stay that way for a few years. But the long-term goal is to add vegetation," she said.

Wetland restoration and preservation was another plank of the project—on and off the trail. 

Natural designer Dennis Burton created a plan for "a healthy and sustainable system." Burton explained how cultivating certain plants and soils is beneficial to the area. Off the trail at the , for example, he advised planting sycamores and silver maples to increase shade and kill invasive plants. He also suggested creating a meadow on the site of a recently demolished pump house

"We want people to use the trail pleasantly and have that exciting adventure with nature," Burton said.

To stay up-to-date with the projects, visit DestinationSchuylkillRiver.org.

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