Local Projects Benefit from Seven New State Grants

HARRISBURG PA – More than $1.23 million of Pennsylvania grant money – intended to help preserve and restore watersheds, enhance parks and community spaces, and improve storm water management and reduce run-off – poured Thursday (Jan. 12, 2023) into western Montgomery, eastern Berks, and northern Chester counties.

Among the beneficiaries were the Pottstown School District, the boroughs of Pottstown and Trappe, Upper Hanover Township, the Pottstown-based Green Valleys Association, the Schuylkill River Greenway Association, and crop-growing farmers across Berks County.

Announcing their provision of the funds were the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Here’s how the money will be put to use, according to grant submissions:

Trappe’s Sisca Park

Trappe received $450,700 from DCNR for further development of its Sisca Community Park and Garden. It is named in honor of fallen Pennsylvania State Trooper and Trappe Fire Chief Branden T. Sisca, and located behind borough hall at 525 W. Main St. The grant will expand the park and upgrade outdated play areas with new Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible equipment to allow for all-inclusive play. Diverse play pieces will appeal to different personalities. A new rain garden will be installed and used to show the community how it can manage and clean storm water while creating a natural landscape of native plants. The project will provide a practical solution to an existing drainage problem, and a long-term investment in public education and outreach.

Trees for Pottstown Schools

The Pottstown School District received for $440,000 from DCNR for a “TreeVitalize” project from 2023 to 2026. It intends to “engage residents in planting and caring for” about 563 trees at nine school district sites, including in and around parking lots and playgrounds. The plantings will contribute to the overall urban tree canopy of Pottstown, and help reduce the urban heat island effect within the borough. Installation of the trees will involve faculty and students, and interpretive signs will be installed to educate students, faculty and borough residents about the trees and the benefits of tree planting.

Soil Help for Berks County Farmers

The Stroud Water Research Center Inc. in Avondale received $386,118 from DEP for a project to assist participating Berks County farmers in implementing positive soil health practices that include cover crops and no-till farming. The proposal would improve growing conditions with better soil, and also address flooding and water quality issues.

Schuylkill River Greenway Planning

The Pottstown-based Schuylkill River Greenway Association received $300,000 from DCNR to update its 5-year strategic plan update, and conduct a feasibility study for the one-mile segment of the Schuylkill River Trail between Buttonwood bridge and Schuylkill Avenue in Reading. It also will design and construct a boat launch along the Schuylkill River in Schuylkill Haven Borough, design Schuylkill River access in Cumru Township, and schedule outdoor recreation programming.

Pottstown’s Chestnut Street Park

Pottstown received $239,300 from DCNR to rehabilitate Chestnut Street Park. The work will include construction of a pedestrian walkway, the installation of play equipment accompanied by required safety surfacing and fencing, ADA access, landscaping, signage, and related site improvements. These upgrades will help meet outdoor recreation needs of Pottstown residents at this neighborhood park.

In the French Creek Watershed

With its offices on Prizer Road in Pottstown, the Green Valleys Association of Southeastern PA received $100,344 to provide technical and financial assistance to equestrian operations in the watershed across portions of West Vincent and South Coventry townships in Chester County.

Along Perkiomen Creek in Upper Hanover

Upper Hanover received $58,200 from DCNR to restore 1,700 feet of Perkiomen Creek in the township’s Camelot Park. The project involves streambank stabilization, the installation of fish habitat structures, creation of a riparian forest buffer, signage and site improvements.

The grant money from both departments comes from a mix of federal and state sources.

Photo by Jamie Street via Unsplash, used under license