Trailing along

Officials and community recognize Frankford Creek Greenway

Connecting communities: Officials and trail enthusiasts last week celebrated the completion of the Frankford Creek Greenway, lauded as an overdue green space connection to the surrounding neighborhoods. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

The path that has been steadily built along Lewis Street between Delaware Avenue and Richmond Street over the past few months has a name.

City officials, nonprofit organizations, and trail enthusiasts last Wednesday officially recognized the completion of the Frankford Creek Greenway, a 1.2-mile piece of trail connected to the Port Richmond trail and a small part of the vast East Coast Greenway.

The East Coast Greenway spans 15 states, from Maine to Florida, and will cover approximately 3,000 miles when complete, making it the longest biking and walking trail in the country, according to its website.

The new segment, which also connects Aramingo Avenue and Wheatsheaf Lane to Lewis Street and Delaware Avenue is Phase 1 of a project which will eventually lead to the Tacony Creek Park Trail.

Designed by Michael Baker, Intl. and constructed by James J. Anderson Construction Co., the trail also joins the Circuit Trails, an initiative to create a 750-mile interconnected bicycle and pedestrian trail system in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Kathy Ott Lov­ell, com­mis­sion­er of Phil­adelphia Parks and Re­cre­ation, commenced the ribbon-cutting ceremony, lauding the trail’s ability to connect communities.

“It’s literally connecting these neighborhoods in our city to the Regional Trail Circuit endeavor and the East Coast Greenway,” she said. “It’s an incredible way to connect our city’s amazing trail system with the suburbs, to connect neighborhoods that are lacking recreational green space.”

Ott Lovell introduce Jean Lynch, regional advisor for the southeast region at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the organization responsible for securing the funds for the $1.4 million project, which runs adjacent to the Frankford Creek, separated by a rail line.

“More and more these organizations are coming together at the right time to push these trails forward and that’s why the Philadelphia region is building one of the best trail networks in the entire country,” she said. “DCNR sees that and often points to our Circuit Trails network for other areas that want to have a strong trail network in their community.”

The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund was the main source of funding.

New trail ahead: The Frankford Creek Greenway is a 1.2-mile section of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, which will span Maine to Florida when complete. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

Patrick Starr, co-chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition, executive VP for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and committee member for the Riverfront North Partnership, offered congratulatory words to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.

“1.2 miles of trail is not easy. To illustrate, this is one of the largest lengths of trail that has opened in recent years in our Circuit Trail system,” he said. “Because we are developing trails in a very urbanized community, we don’t get 30-mile rail trail sections. We get half a mile, we get a couple blocks. So, 1.2 miles is a very significant accomplishment. I hope this Phase 1 increases our connections and increases safety.”

Harping on the issue of safety, Starr pointed out the designed user Circuit Trails envisions “is the child, the mom and the dad who are less familiar with riding and using trails.”

Circuit Trails Coalition has set a goal to have 500 miles of trail built throughout the entire Philadelphia area by 2025, according to Starr.

Daniel Paschall, Mid-Atlantic coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, shared an anecdote about his personal experience using the trail.

“My girlfriend and I were coming in from Aramingo and we got to Wheatsheaf and Richmond, and a guy started walking by and kind of shouted at us, ‘Hey, it’s that way,’ and he points to us where the trail continues because he saw the signs and he knows where the trail goes,” he said. “So, it shows that people who live here are taking ownership of these trails and do know about them.”

Ott Lovell pointed out the need for the need for partners to engage the community, pointing to the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

Julie Slavet, executive director at the nonprofit,

“It takes this many agencies to get this kind of work done and we want to thank them for making this trail a reality,” she said.

One truck driver seemed to agree, blaring the horn for several minutes driving past and down the road.

“Maybe he’s a trucker for trails,” said Ott Lovell, laughing.

For updates on the progress of the East Coast Greenway, visit map.greenway.org.