Implementation

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This Plan sets forth an ambitious agenda for the preservation and creation of open spaces, natural features, historic resources and recreational facilities. The goals and recommendations of this Plan are broad and diverse and are intended to address the immediate and long-term needs of the approximately 60,000 residents living within the 24 square miles of Lower Merion Township.

If this plan were summed up in a single word, that word would be linkages. This Plan proposes numerous different types of linkages between a multitude of different neighborhoods, parks, amenities, institutions, historic resources and municipalities. To successfully weave together the open space/recreational tapestry presented in this Plan, linkages will involve more than just physical connections; they will also require cooperation between different parties. These partnerships are crucial to the implementation of this Plan. Toward that end, this Plan identifies potential partners and common issues with the goal of creating effective relationships.

This section primarily identifies sources of funding necessary to implement this Plan. The primary funding source and impetus of this Plan is the funding available through the Montgomery County Open Space Program. While the Township has been allocated over $3 million dollars, it is strikingly apparent that the open space needs of Lower Merion far exceed that amount. Recognizing that reality, this section also identifies numerous other funding sources to realize the vision. It is anticipated that a large portion of the Township’s share of the County Open Space Funds will serve as ‘seed money’ to jump start critical parts of projects, which will take many years to realize.

One of the central strategies of this Plan is to make more of what we have and to make more with less. Consistent with that strategy, this Plan also identifies sources of technical assistance that can help with implementation.

For instance, a large portion of the proposed Schuylkill River Trail will run within the right-of-way of the Schuylkill Expressway. As outlined in the Pennsylvania Greenway Action Plan state departments and agencies are required to work with municipal and county entities in the creation of a statewide network of Greenways. PENNDOT, which administers the Schuylkill Expressway, has expressed a willingness to work with Lower Merion in securing necessary easements and assist in funding where possible. This is just one example of the ways that this Plan can be further implemented.

Of course, one of the most important sources of support will be the people of Lower Merion. The primary linkage of this Plan is to connect residents with the landscape and resources and in turn to connect with each other. Many of the projects proposed will result in increased public access and social interaction. Many of these projects will create new community spaces. Public involvement in the design, construction and long-term care of these spaces will be crucial to their success. Enhancing the public realm is the goal of creating new public spaces. The support and cooperation of the local media will be important in helping to communicate potential projects and help keep the public informed of issues and aware of opportunities to get involved.

PARTNERSHIPS

There are only a few ‘stand alone’ projects outlined in this Plan that can simply be undertaken by the Township. Many projects ‘color outside the lines’ and will require cooperation between multiple partners. Many potential partners have already been contacted during the preparation of this Plan to gauge potential interest, identify common issues and determine joint projects.

One of the more exciting results of this process was the identification of several potential multi-municipal projects. Multi-municipal projects allow municipalities to share resources and work together to solve extra-municipal or regional problems. Multi-municipal cooperation has been identified as one of the key opportunities toward creating a truly regional open space network. The following potential multi-municipal projects have been identified:

  • Creation of a continuous multi-use trail parallel to the Schuylkill River between Lower Merion and Valley Forge. Municipal partners could include:
    • Borough of West Conshohocken
    • Borough of Bridgeport
    • Township of Upper Merion
    • The City of Philadelphia
  • Extension of the multi-use river front trail east to the end of the end of recreation trail along West River Drive in Philadelphia. Municipal partners could include:
    • City of Philadelphia through the Fairmount Park Commission
  • Creation of a shared riverfront vision and strengthening of physical, economic and social connections between new developments along the Schuylkill River in both Lower Merion and Manayunk. Municipal partners could include:
    • City of Philadelphia
    • Manayunk Development Corporation
    • Roxborough Development Corporation
    • East Falls Development Corporation
  • Implementation of streetscape enhancements and creation of public spaces along the City Avenue Corridor in the City Avenue Special Service District. Municipal partners could include:
    • City of Philadelphia in conjunction with the City Avenue Special Service District
  • Establishment of enhanced pedestrian and bicycle connections between Lower Merion Township and Narberth Borough including, reopening the Rockland Avenue Bridge over the R-5 Amtrak Corridor, improving pedestrian crossings along Wynnewood Road and the preparation of a bicycle trail map showing routes and destinations in both communities. Municipal partners could include:
    • Borough of Narberth
  • Ecological restoration and creation of a multi-use trail along the Balligomingo Road corridor extending from Lower Merion into West Conshohocken. Municipal partners could include:
    • Borough of West Conshohocken
    • Upper Merion Township

Additional partners necessary to realize the Open Space Vision include:

  • United States Army Core of Engineers
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • AMTRAK
  • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT)
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
  • Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission
  • Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
  • Montgomery County Planning Commission
  • Montgomery County Open Space Board
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Lower Merion Business and Financial Community
  • Local Institutions and private land owners
  • Local open space stakeholders and open space advocates including the Lower Merion Conservancy and Bridlewild Association
  • Private Foundations
  • Local Community Groups and Civic Associations

This is a temporarily protected open space in Merion. It is administered by the Riverbend Education Center.
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT
SCHUYLKILL RIVER TRAIL
Purpose: To create a continuous, multi-use recreational trail along the Schuylkill River from East River Drive in Philadelphia to West Conshohocken Borough, Bridgeport Borough and Upper Merion Township terminating in Valley Forge Park and connecting to Montgomery County Trail network. Trail will provide regional connections to Fairmount Park and Wissahickon Park trail networks in Philadelphia and to the Montgomery County Trail network, provide Lower Merion residents with direct access to the Schuylkill River and enhance the goal of creating a continuous network of open spaces (emerald necklace) in LMT.
Comprehensive Tasks
  1. Coordinate with adjacent municipalities to map continuous trail from West River Drive to Valley Forge.
  2. Identify common issues (need for coordination with Norfolk Southern) and connections.
  3. Prepare ecological management plan that identifies and addresses unique riparian issues including non-native vegetation, streambank erosion, flooding, former industrial activity and stormwater runoff from expressway.
  4. Work with Montgomery County Planning Commission to connect trail to County network.
  5. Work with Montgomery County Planning Commission to include trail on County Trail Map and with DVRPC to include trail on regional trail maps.
  6. Continue public outreach process and establish trail implementation committee. Hold regular public meetings and present findings through print media and on public access television.
Phase Partners Comments
Section 1
West River Drive to City Avenue to Blackie Bridge to Manayunk City of Philadelphia
Fairmount Park Commission
Manayunk Development Corporation
East Falls Development Corporation
Norfolk Southern (NFS)
PennDOT
Private Developer of Georgia Pacific site
  • Obtain easement or purchase ROW from West River Drive to Manayunk from NFS.
  • Design Trail
  • Construct trail
Section 2
Blackie Bridge to Green Lane Bridge
PennDOT
  • Obtain easement from PennDOT.
  • Design Trail
  • Construct Trail
Section 3
Harry Olsen Trail Green Lane Bridge to Flat Rock Park
PennDOT
Norfolk Southern
  • Identify ownership/obtain easements or purchase outright.
  • Design Trail
  • Construct Trail
Section 4
Flat Rock Park to Waverly Road
Norfolk Southern
  • Work with neighbors to identify and resolve potential alignment issues. Incorporate solutions into design
  • Obtain easement from PennDOT.
  • Construct Trail
  • Add trail amenities and signage
Section 5
Waverly Road to West Conshohocken
PennDOT
Norfolk Southern
West Conshohocken Borough
  • Identify ownership and obtain easements
  • Design/engineer trail
  • Work with WCB on connections
  • Identify issues.
  • Construct Trail
  • Add trail amenities and signage
Funding Sources: This project will be immediately implemented with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds for acquisition and partial construction. Long-term construction will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding section. Riparian planning and improvements will be immediately implemented with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds. Long-term riparian improvements will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding matrix.
Technical Assistance: This project will require extensive technical assistance from Montgomery County Planning Commission, Norfolk Southern and PennDOT to secure and map trail easements. Montgomery County Planning Commission will assist in ensuring local trail standards are consistent with County trail network.
Additional: A significant amount of labor, required for trail blazing, can be provided through PA Conservation Corps, community service, local organizations such as the Boy Scouts and other volunteer organizations. Because of the potential size of this labor pool, the Township should investigate creating a dedicated residence quarters to house long-term workers, like Conservation Corps.
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT
CREATE AN EMERALD NECKLACE OF LINKED OPEN SPACES
Purpose: To create a continuous network of permanently protected linked open spaces and natural features (Emerald Necklace) along the Schuylkill River/ Mill Creek Valley from Bala Cynwyd through Gladwyne. This portion of the Township has long-been a focus of open space and natural resource protection. This project continues that effort by seeking to add/preserve the existing inventory of permanently protected open spaces with contributing temporarily protected properties and or trails. This project also seeks to formalize and permanently protect key sections of the Bridlewild Trails network.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Identify temporarily protected open spaces and key trail linkages in designated area Township staff and consultants  
Acquire key parcels or trail easements for permanent protection. Township staff To be implemented as part of Montgomery County Open Space program.
Develop long-range, strategic plan for Bridlewild Association identifying and ranking threatened linkages and developing strategies to permanently protect key parts of network and enhancing linkages to river trails Township staff Bridlewild Association Gladwyne Civic Association To be done as part of long-range river trail development.
Develop long-range strategies for permanently protecting identified parcels in Necklace, other than through immediate acquisition. Township staff
Property Owners
Bridlewild Association
Lower Merion Conservancy
Natural Lands Trust
Identify key parcels and establish dialogue with property owners.
Funding Sources: Immediate implementation with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds for acquisition. Long-term acquisition will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding section. Planning will be immediately implemented with Growing Greener funds and local funds.
Technical Assistance: Communication with property owners can be facilitated by Bridlewild Association, Lower Merion Conservancy and Natural Lands Trust
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT
LOCATE AND DEVELOP NEW ATHLETIC FIELDS
Purpose: To provide new opportunities for organized team recreation for both school and community teams by creating new playfields. Because of the lack of suitable land for purchase and cost of acquisition of suitable parcels this project has several alternatives. This is a continuing priority and may not be able to be immediately implemented.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Identify potential primary sites for full-size fields and identify secondary sites for less than full size fields. Township staff and consultants Potential partnership with School District or Private Schools.
Contact property owners and negotiate immediate or future sale. Township staff  
Construct fields Township staff  
Funding Sources: Montgomery County Open space funds if site is immediately identified. Capital funds and other funds from funding matrix if site becomes available in future.
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT
CREATE NEW OPEN SPACES IN UNDERSERVED RESIDENTIAL AREAS
Purpose: To create new neighborhood-oriented public spaces in identified underserved areas. Because identified underserved areas are higher density and nearly built out, this project will require Township staff to identify potential sites for re-development as public spaces. Potential sites include parking lots, vacant lots or even structures, which can be torn down and converted to greenspace. Projects will involve extensive public participation in site selection, design, construction and maintenance.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Identify potential sites with staff and neighborhood input. Evaluate availability of of parcels and potential costs. Evaluate suitability for conversion to public space. Township staff and consultants
Use Township GIS.
Seek community input on suggestions.
Acquire key parcels. Township staff To be implemented as part of Montgomery County Open Space program.
Establish design Process with community input. Township staff
Local Civic Association
To be done as part of long-range park development.
Construction. Township staff  
Funding Sources: Immediate implementation with Montgomery County Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds for acquisition. Long term acquisition will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding section. Planning will be immediately implemented with Growing Greener funds and local funds.
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT
CREATE NEW OPEN SPACES IN COMMERCIAL AREAS
Purpose: To create new, neighborhood-oriented public spaces in identified commercial areas. Potential sites include public or privately owned spaces such as parking lots, vacant lots or even structures, which can be torn down and converted to greenspace. Projects will involve extensive public participation in site selection, design, construction and maintenance. Implementation of this project will require integration with specific, long-range revitalization plans for targeted areas.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Identify potential sites with staff and neighborhood input. Evaluate availability of parcels and potential costs. Evaluate suitability for conversion to public space. Township staff and consultants Use Township GIS. Seek community input on suggestions. Immediate candidates include Ardmore, Bala, Bryn Mawr and along City Avenue.
Acquire key parcels. Township staff To be implemented as part of Montgomery County Open Space program.
Establish design process with community input. Township staff Local Civic Association To be done as part of long-range park development.
Construction. Township staff Conversion of Township-owned land could be implemented as part of Montgomery County Open Space program.
Funding Sources: Immediate implementation with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds for acquisition and or construction. Long-term acquisition/construction will be funded through capital funds and funding sources identified in the funding section. Planning will be immediately implemented with Growing Greener funds and local funds.
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - HIGH PRIORITY PROJECT
GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE ENHANCEMENTS
Purpose: To plan for the immediate and long-term enhancement of green infrastructure throughout the Township.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Identify immediate locations for planting of street trees. Township staff (recreation, public works and planning).Shade Tree Commission Immediate locations indicated on regreening opportunities map.
Implement individual park master improvement plans. Township staff Focus upon tree planting, landscaping, erosion mitigation and natural areas restoration.
Prepare a long-range Gateway/Corridor/Node/Street enhancement plan. Township staff Consultant Civic Associations Business community Focus areas identified on regreening opportunities map.
Develop a community greening advocate to coordinate long-term green infrastructure improvements. Township staff Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Civic Associations Business community Potential joint project with Narberth Borough
Funding Sources: Immediate implementation with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns funds for street tree plantings and park improvements. Long-term regreening plan through funders identified on funding section. Community greening advocate may be established through a combination of grants and/or cooperation with local business community.

 

IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - MEDIUM PRIORITY PROJECT
ESTABLISH A MULTI-USE TRAIL ALONG THE R-6 LINE
FROM CYNWYD STATION TO MANAYUNK
Purpose: To create a multi-use recreational trail along the vacant and underutilized R-6 rail corridor from Cynwyd Station to Manayunk. This project is contingent upon SEPTA final decision/ final alignment of Schuylkill Valley Metro. Two potential scenarios exist. First, SEPTA vacates rail corridor or transfers rights to Township for permanent use; or second, SEPTA allows temporary use for recreation and a trail is incorporated into long-term design of corridor.
If trail proceeds, Township should evaluate adding smaller peripheral properties necessary to connect this trail to planned river trail. These properties can be added through outright acquisition or via easement. Long-range consideration should be given to reopening railroad viaduct for direct connection to Manayunk. Trail should be comprehensively planned for maximum connectivity, environmental restoration and potential inclusion of economic development components.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Determine SEPTA s long-range plans for corridor. If conversion to trail is feasible, proceed to next phase Township staff
Montgomery County Planning Commission
If trail is feasible it should be added to Montgomery County Trail Plan and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Trail Plan.
Secure use of corridor via purchase, lease or easement. Investigate potential environmental liabilities from former industrial use. Township staff
Consultants
 
Develop comprehensive trail plan. Incorporate into long-range joint river development plans with Manayunk. Township staff
Consultants
West Laurel Hill Cemetery
West Minster Cemetery
Civic Associations
Manayunk Development Corporation
 
Construct trail. Township Staff  
Funding Sources: Long-range development of trail can be accomplished through capital funds and sources identified on funding section.
Technical Assistance: This project will require significant technical assistance during each step, most importantly during initial discussions with SEPTA. Possible sources include Federal, State and Local government representatives.
Additional: A significant amount of labor required for trail blazing can be provided through PA Conservation Corps, community service, local organizations such as the Boy Scouts and other volunteer organizations. Because of the potential size of this labor pool, the Township should investigate creating a dedicated residence quarters to house long-term workers, like Conservation Corps.

 

IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - ONGOING PROJECT
IMPLEMENT THE TOWNSHIP-WIDE PEDESTRIAN/BICYCLE PLAN
Purpose: To implement the 2004 Campbell Thomas Township-wide Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Implement 4 priority projects identified in Plan. Township staff
PennDOT (state roads)
Consultant
 
Work with Township staff and departments to implement complete plan through capital projects and land development. Township staff  
Continue public education work with civic associations to identify issues and difficult to implement sections. Township staff
Civic Associations
 
Funding Sources: This project will be immediately implemented with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds for construction. Long-term construction will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding section. Long-term implementation will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding section and capital funds.
IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX - ONGOING PROJECT
Heritage Resource Protection
Purpose: To ensure the preservation of significant historic resources throughout the Township. Lower Merion has approximately 1,000 historic resources on its historic resource inventory with hundreds of additional eligible candidates. To further historic preservation and protect particularly exceptional or threatened resources the Township may acquire properties.
Phase Lead Party Comments
Identify exceptional or threatened historic resources, which may be acquired at bargain sale. Township staff and Boards Should be done in consultation with local preservation advocates.
Investigate potential repurposing opportunities. Township staff
Consultants
Lower Merion Conservancy
Lower Merion Historical Society
 
Negotiate with property owner and acquire. Township staff and Boards  
Funding Sources: This project may be immediately implemented with Montgomery County Green Fields/ Green Towns and Growing Greener funds for acquisition. Long-term implementation will be funded through funding sources identified in the funding matrix or capital funds.

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