Anthony Doyle knows a good fishin’ hole when he sees one.
Doyle enjoys the solitude of fishing, and the beauty of a slow-moving river. He says he’s got a keen eye for where fish are likely to bite, too. He’s walked through Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township‘s Schuylkill River Park and thinks it would be the perfect place to cast a line.
But as Doyle and fellow members of the township Board of Commissioners heard recently, the park’s deep-woods allure attracts more than just fish. Two weeks ago, township police arrested a 22-year-old Pottstown man and two 17-year-old juveniles there for drug possession.
It’s a stretch to call the 12-acre open space a “park.” Located on the south side of Sanatoga Station Road, at its intersection with Porter Road, it may someday be home to a portion of the riverside hike-and-bike system envisioned between Philadelphia and Pottsville. For now, it consists primarily of unpaved paths.
“It’s raw ground we haven’t developed yet,” township Manager Rodney Hawthorne acknowledged during the board’s Sept. 3 (2008) meeting, at which Doyle raised discussion of the park. “We had the money to acquire it, but not improve it.”
The park is not officially open to the public, Hawthorne emphasized. However, a sign posted there lists a variety of “park rules” and claims the “park closes at sunset.”
The park entrance is blocked by concrete barriers and shrouded by heavy foliage. There’s no place for visitors’ cars. Norfolk Southern freight trains regularly rumble over nearby tracks.
In some places, dangerous drops exist along the slope between the park land and the river’s edge. It’s so remote that “you’d need a lot of people to effect a rescue there,” a police sergeant told the board. “It’s a nightmare for rescue efforts.”
Such isolation also is a magnet for crime. Township police said they’ve made several other arrests in the park for drug and sex-related offenses during recent weeks as a result of “aggressive” patrols on foot. Patrols are expected to continue “as time permits,” board members learned.
Doyle worried aloud that Montgomery County PA grants to the township for future open space purchases would dry up if it learned Lower Pottsgrove hadn’t yet built an already-named park. “Will they take the money back,” he asked, “or not give us any more?” Hawthorne assured him the county understands all its municipalities face a similar problem: there’s not enough money to do everything … which includes providing access to can’t-miss fishing spots.
Schuylkill River Park
2116 Sanatoga Station Road
Sanatoga PA 19464
Distance from Sanatoga village center (East High Street at North Pleasantview Road): 1.2 miles.