Local Bank Donates To Riverfront Center Development

SRHA Executive Director Kurt Zwikl (left), National Penn Group Executive Vice President David B. Kennedy, bank Senior Vice Presidents Barbara H. Pattison and James P. Ferry, and MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout exchange the bank's oversize donation check.

POTTSTOWN PA — National Penn Bank, which operates branch offices in Sanatoga, Pottstown and Royersford, has donated $20,000 to the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area and Montgomery County Community College for their development of a Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center in Pottstown, the college announced Thursday (April 14, 2011).

The new center will be housed in the 140 College Drive building that currently serves as the heritage area’s headquarters. The building sits along the Schuylkill River Trail, and beside Riverfront Park.

The project expands the college’s Pottstown campus by transforming the three-acre brownfield site into a state-of-the-art educational facility. The center will house three technology-equipped classrooms, a state-of-the-art environmental science laboratory, and a new heritage area interpretive center.

“We hope that this gift will help us to build momentum” for the center, “which is important for the economic development of Pottstown borough and for the health of the Schuylkill River,” said college President Dr. Karen A. Stout.

The first phase of the project, anticipated for completion by Fall 2011, includes renovating the infrastructure of the currently unused portion of the building and creating the interpretive center in what is now used as the heritage area conference room.

“The interpretative center will provide educational, historic and tourist information about the Schuylkill River Heritage Area,” said SRHA Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. “It is intended to serve as a visitors’ center for the entire Schuylkill River region, and will include interactive displays and a historical overview of the river’s role in the American, Industrial and Environmental Revolutions.”

The Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center will also allow for joint programming between the College and the heritage area, with non-credit courses that promote awareness of the river as a historical, cultural and natural resource. Courses will run the gamut from historical perspectives of the region, to lessons in kayaking and bicycle maintenance.

National Penn “is pleased to support this unique partnership” to continue education “through this innovative learning experience,” said David B. Kennedy, National Penn Group Executive.

Previously owned by PECO Energy, the building served the Pottstown community as an electrical generating station starting in 1911. After sitting vacant for a number of years, the building and three-acre site were purchased by the Borough of Pottstown. The college took ownership of the site in April 2009; the heritage area leases office space in the building.

Designed to be sustainable, the college will seek environmental certification for the center and will look to incorporate a variety of sustainable adaptations, such as a green roof and geothermal energy sources, that can serve as both a tool for teaching and learning and as an energy and cost-savings alternative.