UPDATE: Middletown Township approves Rails to Trails project
[UPDATE: The Glen Loch Home Association is taking legal action to block the project. via Delaware County Times]
MIDDLETOWN – After 17 years of planning, it all came down to 2 feet of dirt and 20 trees. On January 9th, the Middletown Township Council unanimously approved the Land Development Plan for the Chester Creek Rail Trail for the 2.8 mile section running from Lenni to Creek Road.
The council had delayed voting on the project at several previous meetings due to the concerns of homeowners who live in the vicinity of the trail, citing concerns such as crime, safety, noise, trash, and drainage issues.
After hearing from residents over the course of many meetings, the township council requested and the project planners agreed to a number of alterations of the original plan. These include a smaller parking lot, landscaping, additional police presence, fencing, no parking signs, and bollards. (Bollards are poles that block motor vehicle access to the trail but which can be removed for emergency vehicle use.) Adding an additional two feet in elevation to a berm and 20 Douglas fir trees at the request of a homeowner living near the planned parking lot on Creek Road was the final request agreed to before the council voted in favor of the project.
The group behind this initiative, the Friends of the Chester Creek Branch (FOCCB) first presented the idea to residents of the township in 1995. Trail supporters point to the example of the Radnor Trail, which was opposed by many in the community prior to construction, and which is now widely viewed as a community asset.
The group has obtained state and federal funding for this project, and expects to have the project ready for construction bidding later this year. If all goes according to plan, this first (and middle) section of the trail is expected to be completed in 2013. Project planners and many residents attending the meeting were pleased with the vote, especially since the trail risks losing portions of its funding if milestones are not met.
Additional sections of the trail, which follows the unused Civil War-era Chester Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, are in the planning stages. When complete, the 10-foot-wide paved trail will run for a total of 6.8 miles, beginning at the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and the old Wawa Train Station in Chester Heights Borough and terminating at the Caleb Pusey Plantation in Upland Borough.
Along the way, it will run through Middletown, Aston, Chester, and Upland Townships.