Cheltenham Trails Meeting: What A Night!

Emilie Wetzel
May 11, 2018

Originally posted on Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia blog on May 8, 2018

TTF is all about trails! Trails are a key way to get people next to creeks so they can learn about and protect clean water. That’s why we work closely with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and are an active member of The Circuit Coalition, supporting and advocating for trail links, like the Frankford Creek Greenway. We are also looking west to Cheltenham, one of our major municipal partners, to connect the awesome Tacony Creek Trail to the Tookany and Jenkintown Creeks across this community. We’re proud to be a leader in this effort.

On Wednesday, April 25th, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF), Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT), Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP), and the Cheltenham Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) co-hosted a trails info session at the Cheltenham Arts Center.

The meeting saw a massive turnout: over 40 residents in attendance, including Township Commissioners Ann Rappoport and Mitchell Zygmund-Felt as well as Cheltenham School Board Director David Cohen.

John Raisch of the EAC kicked off the meeting, which featured a participatory mapping exercise led by BCGP’s Leonard Bonarek, who also noted that when complete, this trail will have a richness of amenities bested only by one segment in the entire Circuit network: the Center City portion of the Schuylkill River Trail. Just about everything in the Township is on the creek or within a few blocks: a rock climbing gym, soccer fields, a food co-op, little league fields, schools, parks, rec centers, birding sites, and many more, including the lovely venuethat hosted our meeting.

PEC’s Patrick Starr followed Leonard and discussed The Circuit regional bike network, how Cheltenham can be a central part of it, and the manifold benefits that trail connectivity can bring to the Township. 

Julie Slavet of TTF discussed how trails can play a key role in clean water education and stewardship, with TTF as a leader in trail programming and advocacy in both Philadelphia and Montgomery County; and Susan Dannenberg of FoCT highlighted how a trail in the Township is slated to connect to the Cresheim Trail, which has begun to gather steam recently.

When completed, a trail through the Township will connect its residents with Philadelphia via the Tacony and Frankford Trails to the southeast, and to the Wissahickon Valley via the Cresheim Trail to the northwest. For a regional view of the status of the Circuit network and how Cheltenham sits at a key crossroads, click this link for DVRPC’s Circuit status map.

We were expecting some enthusiasm, but we were really blown away by the passion for trails shared by the many folks who came out for the meeting.

John Raisch closed our meeting with this announcement: “I would like to express a sincere thank you to the community members who attended our event tonight. A special thanks also goes out to Commissioner Rappoport, Commissioner Zygmund-Felt and School Board member David Cohen. Tonight’s meeting further solidified for me the overwhelming support we have for development of the Circuit Trails within our township. I am super excited about continuing the momentum through the EAC’s Mobility & Healthy Living work-group as there are now many residents who have voiced their support Sustainable Cheltenham, our township’s overarching sustainability plan.”

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