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Montgomery County's Schuylkill River Greenway Stewardship Study

A year-long conservation and stewardship study for the Schuylkill River Corridor Greenway gets underway.

From Montgomery County, PA

What is the greenway study all about?

Map of Pennsylvania

The Schulylkill River Greenway Stewardship Study-- a new, yearlong initiative, directed by the Schulylkill River Greenway Stewardship Study Advisory Committee, Simone Jaffe Collins Landscape Architecture, the study consultant and Montgomery County Planning Commission staff, will assess how to create a connected system of open green space within Montgomery County's portion of the Schuylkill River Valley. The study will determine the focus and purpose(s) of the greenway in its various areas, propose a physical plan and management plan to guide its development, and assign roles and responsibilities for its implementation. The study began in September 1999. A final draft plan is tentatively scheduled to be ready for public comment in July 2000

photo: Boating on the Schuylkill River
Boating on the Schuylkill River

What is a greenway?

There are according to Montgomery County's 1996 open space plan Creating An Open Space Legacy, "many different reasons for creating greenways, . . . the fundamental objective of the greenway network is to protect sensitive natural features, natural processes, and ecological integrity." A greenway as defined by the plan, "connects open space, natural, historic, scenic, and recreation areas in a natural or landscaped corridor. A greenway is a linear open space established along a natural corridor, such as a riverfront, stream valley, or ridgeline, or along a built feature, such as a railroad right-of-way, canal, or scenic road. Trails within greenways give access to these sites for pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, and commuters, and promote economic development."

Why should we have a greenway along the Schuylkill River?

The Schuylkill River is the county's primary watershed and key natural resource. The river has often been overlooked-- especially when one considers the uniqueness of the resource and how close it is to the country's fifth largest metropolitan region. An important impetus for the study was a recommendation in the open space plan, Creating an Open Space Legacy. It calls for protecting the Schuylkill River corridor as a greenway and principal component of an interconnected, regional open space and trail network. It recommends that a detailed study be prepared to analyze and assess the constraints and opportunities of a greenway along the river corridor. Furthermore, an important part of the stewardship study is to promote a rediscovery of the river and a better understanding of how it can contribute to our county's quality of life and the vitality of those towns located at it's banks.

What will the study accomplish?

The immediate objective of the stewardship study initiative is twofold. First, it will recommend a physical plan for creating the greenway through the river corridor by connecting existing areas of preserved parklands and municipal open space, state conservation areas, national historic landmarks and districts, and our older riverfront communities into a continuously linked green necklace of open space. The second goal is to produce a management plan that will assign roles and responsibilities for the greenway's long-term care and stewardship.

Public Forums and input are crucial

The public kickoff was initiated with the events of "River Week" in early November 99 (see River Conference article). During this time, a mini-conference and three public forums were held in different locations within Montgomery County's Schuylkill River valley. Peter Simone facilitated the three public forums, which identified issues of concern and opportunities within Schuylkill River corridor.

June 1999 river sojourn at the Upper Schuylkill Valley Park

Realizing the plan goals will require an ambitious, sustained long&endash;term effort, we encourage your participation and support. We seek a wide variety of governmental, conservation, and business organizations as well as the citizens of Montgomery County to contribute to the process of planning a greenway. We recognize the vital role that public participation will play to ensure the successful implementation of the stewardship study. The incoming county commissioners are committed to the process, and the study committee plans to foster public awareness, volunteerism, stewardship, and accomplishment as the study progresses. We believe a positive public participation process will be a key component in the success of the stewardship study process and its implementation. Already, over 200 individuals and organizations have been identified as "stakeholders" of the river.

Introduction and Background

Simone Jaffe Collins Landscape Architecture, with Montgomery County is developing the Schuylkill River Greenway Stewardship Plan. Assisted with a generous Commonwealth DCNR grant and Montgomery County funding, the County Commissioners selected Simone Jaffe Collins (SJC) to be the greenway stewardship study consultant in September 1999. The firm, based in Berwyn, PA ., is a multi- disciplinary landscape architecture and environmental planning firm which specializes in trail planning and design, park facility planning and design, vision planning, and transportation planning throughout the Commonwealth. Peter Simone, ASLA, RLA, a principal of the firm and Bryan Smith, RLA, Associate, will manage the project.

Future Public Meetings

Future meetings of the Municipal Advisory Committee which are open to the public will be held January 25, 2000 and March 28, 2000 at Freedom Hall, Upper Merion Township Building, 175 West Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia, from 6-8 p.m.

A public open house and meeting to discuss preliminary findings is scheduled to be held on March 21, 2000 (tentative) from 7-9 p.m. at the Montgomery County Community College, west campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown, PA. A second public meeting will be held March 22, 2000 from 7-9 p.m. at Freedom Hall, Upper Merion Township Building, 175 West Valley Forge Road King of Prussia.

Montgomery County Courthouse, Planning Commission, P.O. Box 311, Norristown, PA 19404-0311

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