If nature had its way, the Manayunk Canal would eventually turn into wetlands. To keep that from happening, the city's Department of Parks & Recreation will begin dredging the waterway in 2012.
At a public meeting this week, the department announced the project, which will be done with the assistance of the Philadelphia Water Department.
Pennoni Associates, Inc., an engineering firm, is working as a consultant. The main areas that will be dredged sit between Flat Rock Dam and Lock 68, and at two silt islands located downstream.
Joel Zickler, the staff scientist at Pennoni Associates, explained that this dredging project is more than 10 years in the making. There are a few different ways to remove the sedimentation, and the department has decided to hydraulically withdraw it, because, Zickler says, "it is a lower-impact method than mechanically dredging."
One attendant asked if the dredging project would allow the Canal to be used recreationally. Rob Armstrong, the Department's preservation and development specialist, said that this is the ultimate goal, but that water flow must first be re-established in the Canal. Right now, the only thing feeding the canal is storm sewers. Eventually, Armstrong hopes that people will be able to take kayaks out on the Canal.
Another attendant was concerned about how the dredging project might affect birds that nest near the Canal. Zickler acknowledged that it was something that the contractors should keep in mind, but reminded the audience that part of the reason they're dredging the Canal is to maintain the environmental health of that area.
"Where you might champion the bird, I might champion the fish," said Zickler.
Armstrong added that if the dredging project somehow damages the Manayunk Towpath — which is being repaired this summer — then it would be promptly fixed. He said that the dredging will take about two months to complete, and should be finished by late 2012.
Those of us who live, work and shop in South Philly have driven past the iconic SS United States countless times over the years. It is currently berthed in the Delaware River, directly across Columbus Boulevard from IKEA. Very few of us, though, seem to truly understand the hugely important role the ships plays in our country's maritime history. For starters, it was the largest ocean liner ever built in the U.S. It was also the fastest to ever cross the Atlantic. And in its mid-century heyday, it was known for shuttling political dignitaries and Hollywood superstars alike.
Unfortunately, due to its exorbitant maintenance costs, it has also been widely assumed that the grand ship--which has been referred to by Mayor Nutter as a "national treasure"--would soon be headed for the scrap yard. That all changed on Feb. 1, however, when it was announced that the SS United States Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing the ship, had managed to purchase it from its most recent owner, Norwegian Cruise Line. The $5.8 million price tag was covered by the local philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest.
But now that the ship has been saved, and with the Conservancy planning to transform it into something of a floating entertainment complex--complete with a museum, a hotel, and retail--the big question has to do with whether or not the ship will actually remain in Philadelphia. "The simple answer," says Dan McSweeney, the Conservancy's Executive Director, "is there's a decent chance the ship could stay in Philadelphia as a redeveloped stationary attraction. There's also a decent chance the ship could go to New York or Miami for the same purpose."
The Conservancy says it now has 20 months to find a group of public and private partners interested in developing the SS United States.
Source: Dan McSweeny, SS United States Conservancy
Harris Steinberg, of Penn Praxis, will discuss Philadelphia's waterfront revitalization efforts. He will be joined by Michael Purzycki, of the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware.
102 Meyerson Hall, Room B1
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
The Schuylkill Project has been focusing on stewardship of volunteers lately; as part of a series of gatherings to assist volunteers, a meeting is scheduled for February that will focus on East Falls efforts. How can the work of volunteers in greening the waterfront best be supported by the Schuylkill Project? Some of the ways the Project is seeking to help include fundraising, connecting groups to city resources, and providing tools or supplies for workdays.
The volunteer get-together will be at Murphy's Irish Saloon at 3333 Conrad Street in East Falls on Thursday, February 10 starting at 7pm. Anyone who is interested in greening, whether you are a current volunteer or would like to be, is welcome. RSVP's are needed, however: please contact email@example.com to let us know you're coming.
The Schuylkill Project celebrates life along the River and seeks to connect our communities to the river through planning, programming and project. Visit www.destinationschuylkillriver.org to learn more.