Wissahickon East Officially Welcomed Into Fairmount Park

 

Mark Focht, First Deputy Commissioner of Parks & Facilities, makes the Wissahickon East parcel official | Photo: Bradley Maule

Mark Focht, First Deputy Commissioner of Parks & Facilities, makes the Wissahickon East parcel official. At left, Howard Coale and Antje Mattheus of Wissahickon East Project, at right, State Representative LeAnna Washington, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Mike DiBerardinis, and Dr. Arlene Bennett | Photo: Bradley Maule

With a ribbon cutting ceremony and three hour cleanup on Saturday, dignitaries and neighbors officially welcomed the Wissahickon East into Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation system. The event formalized a hard fought victory for the East Mt. Airy coalition whose will made it happen, the culmination of 20 years’ persistence.

The six-acre plot of land, previously privately owned, was transferred to the City for inclusion in the park system last fall. The green space straddles the banks and floodplain of Cresheim Creek, whose 2.7-mile journey begins on the other side of Stenton Avenue in Montgomery County and passes through here on its way to Devil’s Pool and Wissahickon Creek.

For years the space, whose primary access point is at relatively secluded Woodbrook Lane and Anderson Street, was used as a dumping ground. On Saturday, volunteers cleared the creek of litter, debris, and washed out logs impeding the natural progress of the creek from that entry down to the trestle carrying SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill East Line. Among the items removed were several large tires, a hot water heater, a refrigerator, and a car.

The land had been owned by DeSouza Brown, a developer based in Bala Cynwyd whose work has been primarily in the Harrisburg and Lehigh Valley areas. After years of condo proposals that never happened—and a historical easement in 2006 protecting the land from development—DeSouza Brown finally donated the land to the City in October 2013.

At the western end of the parcel, Cresheim Creek passes through a culvert under SEPTA's Chestnut Hill East Line | Photo: Bradley Maule

At the western end of the parcel, Cresheim Creek passes through a culvert under SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill East Line | Photo: Bradley Maule

That easement was the result of the efforts of the Wissahickon East Project (WEP), a band of neighbors embodied by treasurer Dr. Arlene Bennett, a psychiatrist who’s lived in the neighborhood for 50 years. “It warms my heart to see this today,” she commented to a crowd just as proud to be with her. “In 15, 20 years, we can look back to this as the day we made it happen.”

Echoing her sentiments were district Councilwoman Cindy Bass, State Representative LeAnna Washington, and Parks and Recreation’s top officials, Mike DiBerardinis and Mark Focht, who worked in concert with WEP to navigate procedure and bring the parcel into City property. Focht did the honors of cutting the ribbon, flanked by the elected officials as well as WEP representatives, members from the East Mt. Airy Neighbors and Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, and Friends of the Wissahickon executive director Maura McCarthy.

At present, a small diamond-shaped trail leads from the street to views overlooking the creek, and eventually elaborated trails will extend through the parcel. And some day, the park will include part of an uninterrupted Cresheim Trail, which currently follows the banks of Cresheim Creek from better known Wissahickon trails and terminates near the Chestnut Hill West Line at Cresheim Valley Road. That trail will continue past that train viaduct and over the trestle at Germantown Avenue (next to the Trolley Car Diner), out a right-of-way currently owned by PECO, all the way out to Fort Washington State Park.

* * *

For more info, visit the Wissahickon East Project web site HERE.

Panorama: volunteers work to clean up Cresheim Creek, the natural centerpiece to the City's newest piece of parkland | Photo: Bradley Maule

Panorama: volunteers work to clean up Cresheim Creek, the natural centerpiece to the City’s newest piece of parkland | Photo: Bradley Maule

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



1 Comment


  1. This is great. We should have trails and preserved land all along all of the creeks in the general area. Good for all involved for cleaning it up and giving the creek back to nature.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
Blumenfeld To Add To Abbotts Square

Blumenfeld To Add To Abbotts Square

May 27, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Society Hill mixed-use set for expansion, Mt Sinai as demolition and construction site, Hershey’s signs on for Pennovation Center, and mapping Philly regional commuter patterns > more

In Kingsessing, A Colonial Cottage Keeps History In Place

In Kingsessing, A Colonial Cottage Keeps History In Place

May 27, 2016  |  Vantage

  Vogdes Street skitters in one-and-two-block bits, like a seam with uneven stitching, through West Philadelphia. It begins at the southern end as a diagonal spur > more

Planning Commission Signs Off On New Penn Medical Facility

Planning Commission Signs Off On New Penn Medical Facility

May 26, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Penn Tower replacement approved by planning commission, two West Philly community gardens safe from sheriff’s sale for now, South Philly school to get $100K for playground improvements, anti-gentrification graffiti in West Philly, and Habitat for Humanity begins work on 21 homes near Temple > more

Bicycles + Exploration = Bikesploration! (Round 2)

May 25, 2016  |  Uncategorized

  Hidden City and Spoke Magazine have teamed up again to present a four tour series of bicycle explorations. Three of the tours are brand new > more

With World Heritage City Liftoff Tomorrow, What Can We Expect?

With World Heritage City Liftoff Tomorrow, What Can We Expect?

May 25, 2016  |  News

World Heritage and City officials will unveil the project's ambitious goals, but what do they have in mind, and can they deliver? Hilary Jay reports > more

PhillyU Students Rethink East Falls Station

PhillyU Students Rethink East Falls Station

May 25, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Imagining a rebuilt SEPTA station, recalling the fire of 1897, Pennsport residents want dog parks, five more homes for South Kensington, and operator selected for Parks on Tap summer series > more