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Township Greenway Plan Would Span 14 Miles

Lower Macungie is on its way to adopting a Greenway Plan that would link 14 miles of trails throughout the township.

KMS Design Group, a landscape architecture and planning firm based in Phoenixville, Chester County, on Thursday presented the final draft of its plan to construct a 14-mile system of trails throughout the township to the

The BOC unanimously agreed to advertise a September meeting at which township residents will be able comment on the plan before the BOC votes on adopting it.

The plan would stretch across the township, mainly following the Swabia and Little Lehigh creeks. It is designed to accommodate walkers, runners cyclists and -- for the majority of the trails -- people in wheelchairs.

The greenway would be constructed over a period of time -- possibly 10 years -- so that its cost would be less of a burden to taxpayers. If done all at once with all possible "bells and whistles" it would cost up to $21 million.

A more basic version of the greenway plan could be complete for about $9 million, the designers said.

But the township may get its greenway and spend much less money Commissioner James Lancsek explained.

"As development occurs, it's important to have this plan in place. Developers may build parts of this for us. We may never spend a dime," Lancsek said.

The key, he said, is to have the plan in place to show contractors in a development's planning stage.

The general purpose of having a greenway plan is to promote fitness, connect the township, protect resources and reduce flooding, designers said, but not all are convinced.

Township resident Dan Kaczor said he has lived near such areas, and in his experience, not many people use them. Additionally, he wanted to know how much such a plan would raise taxes.

The commissioners deferred Kaczor's questions for the public meetings.

Ron Beitler August 20, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Jim Lancseks quote is very important to understand. If done correctly, this greenway should cost the township very little. What has been assembled so far essentially equals a roadmap. This roadmap can be then used when new development comes in to get developers to pay for some of this. Also sponsorships and public/private partnerships will be explored, state trail grants, private philanthropic foundation grants ect. ect. The report states yearly maintenance costs at approximately .22 cents per resident per mile/yr. It's also important to note this will be built in stages over probably decades. Each step can be addressed in the most cost efficient manner and then evaluated each step in a way to determine how best to move forward. For residents concerned with tax increases there is only one item that needs to be on our radar. Police services. No other issue has bigger tax implications. No other issue comes close. Once we hit the development threshold where we need police services and and beyond state police.... that is when you will see the NEED for a substantial tax increase.
Rob Hamill August 20, 2012 at 03:27 PM
The Greenway is important to give the residents a feel of ownership of the Creek. Would LCA have been allowed to put in 2 new water pumps of 4 million gallons per day in drought conditions if the Greenway were in place? I think not.
Scott Alderfer August 20, 2012 at 03:36 PM
If done right, this Greenway would be a major recreational asset for our community and would likely reflect favorably on property values for residents in close proximity. Lower Macungie _needs_ a major green infrastructure project like this Greenway to offset all of the open space lost over the past 10-15 years through urban sprawl. The township already owns a significant portion of the land needed for the Greenway, and much of it is undevelopable because it's on floodplains. However, if we have to wait for developers to agree to build sections of the Greenway for us to avoid any cash outlay by LMT, it will never get built. There are many grant opportunities out there to fund this project, but most require a 50% match. For anyone to say they support the Greenway as long as it doesn't cost LMT any money is nothing more than lip service.
Mark Spengler August 20, 2012 at 04:06 PM
A very worthy project. Public participation is the key to getting this done correctly.

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