Looking Back / Looking Forward
Looking back at 2020, the watch words were ‘quiet’ and ‘slow’. The interruption of normal business by the pandemic granted the board time to reflect and reassess our priorities and to set a direction for the next year. Looking forward to 2021, we are excited about new engagement and outreach activities and our new board members participation.
Increased Demand for Trails
It’s been a year since Covid-19 forced a shutdown that prevented us from engaging in many activities we love. Fortunately, we live in an area that has wonderful parks and trails that support outdoor activities. This past year, usage of our trails and parks increased exponentially.
Although the pandemic has kept the Friends of the Cresheim Trail from holding workdays and doing the usual trail maintenance, we have not been idle. During this time, we were able to reassess our goals and expand our Board of Directors.
New Board Members
The Friends of the Cresheim Trail is excited to introduce two new board members.
Melissa Brookes is a Springfield Township resident and mother of two young boys in the Springfield School District. Melissa is eager to see the Cresheim Trail completed in Springfield Township so that her community has a safe place to ride bikes or walk to neighboring towns and public spaces within the township.
Christine Bush is a long time Mt. Airy resident and STEM teacher at the Henry Houston Elementary School near the Cresheim Trail. Christine is excited to facilitate the building of the Cresheim Trail and to shepherd Houston students into a new outdoor classroom. (see below)
In 2020, the Philadelphia Streets Department installed a crosswalk on Cresheim Valley Drive at Cresheim Road to serve Cresheim Trail users entering the downstream trail within the Wissahickon Valley. This crossing features zebra stripping and large signs indicating a pedestrian crossing. The crosswalk now allows trail users to safely access trails on both sides of Cresheim Valley Drive/Emlen Street.
New Goal: Community Outreach
The Friends of the Cresheim Trail has made a commitment to creating value for our near neighbors through community outreach. In the Philadelphia portion of the Cresheim Trail, we are entering partnerships with our two nearest institutional neighbors, Henry Houston Elementary School and New Covenant Church. Building on past relationships we aim to create an open dialog with these neighbors to direct how the Cresheim Trail can best serve their needs.
To support this goal, our new board member, Christine Bush, an experienced STEM teacher at the Houston School, will help create tools to enable teachers to engage students in the outdoors. Christine will develop lesson plans to support teachers who are eager to use the Cresheim Trail as a teaching tool.
New Covenant Church
A few years ago, FoCT met Sam Grannum, COO of New Covenant Church, which borders the Cresheim Trail. Mr. Grannum is an enthusiastic supporter of the Cresheim Trail. This year we look forward to deepening our relationship with New Covenant. Friends of the Cresheim Trail will work with Mr. Grannumand the church’s board of directors to create value on the Cresheim Trail for New Covenant congregants.
In 2021 we look forward to advancing the Springfield and Cheltenham segments of the Cresheim Trail. In recent years our primary focus has been on the Philadelphia portion of the Cresheim Trail, as the key link between trails in the Wissahickon Valley Park and its surrounding Philadelphia neighborhoods, and Springfield and Cheltenham Township neighborhoods and parks. Now that much of the Philadelphia portion is well-established, the FoCT plans to focus effort on the Montgomery County townships to ensure they receive any support needed to initiate trail discussions and development plans in that area.
The current Springfield Township Board of Commissioners has shown great interest in creating more walkability and bikeability for their residents. Springfield Township recently won a $197,600 grant for the Mermaid Park Stream and Habitat Restoration Project. This project will include a connection between Mermaid Park and the future Cresheim Trail. Although no one is putting shovels in the ground just yet, this attention to planning for the future Cresheim Trail is promising.
Cheltenham Township is in an ideal position to consider their portion of the Cresheim Trail along the old railroad bed/PECO right-of-way between Cheltenham Avenue and 309. This portion of the proposed trail is a beautiful greensward with wide, rolling hills that some neighbors have been hiking and cross-country skiing on for a decade or more.
The friends of the Cresheim Trail had their first work day of 2021 on March 27th. We had a great turnout and were able to do some maintenance on our natural surface trails. This work included reinforcement of a somewhat precarious section of trail just east of the railroad trestle, and the replacement of the worn-out bike jump on the upper loop between Cresheim Road and the railroad trestle. Work on the newer rock section near Navajo street was also completed.
Spring Clean Up This Saturday, April 10th!
The past year has really taken its toll on our roads. Record amounts of trash and debris have accumulated on Cresheim Valley Drive. Friends of the Cresheim Trail will join the Philadelphia Streets Department in hosting a special clean-up day this Saturday, April 10th, from 9:30 AM to noon. For safety the Streets Department will close Cresheim Valley Drive from Germantown Avenue to Stenton Avenue for this event. Limited parking is available on Crittenden Street. There is some rain predicted for Saturday, so please keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates and cancellations.